Samsung begins 14nm contract chip production

Samsung Electronics has begun producing contract chips using its 14-nanometre FinFET process for an unspecified client, a top executive has said.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Kim Ki-nam, president of Samsung's semiconductor business and head of System LSI business, said production is going very well for its 14-nanometre FinFET foundry. However, Kim did not say which client it is producing the chips for.

Samsung's touted 14-nanometre process was developed to make logic chips for clients, with the main goal of luring customers away from its biggest rival, TSMC, a Taiwan-based contract chip maker.

The two likeliest candidates for Samsung's first batch of 14-nanometer chips are Apple, which has reportedly begun chip orders for its S1 system in a package that will power the Apple Watch, and Qualcomm, the biggest fish in application processors (AP), which has inked a deal with the South Korean tech giant for the latter to produce next-generation APs. The chips could also potentially be for AMD's new GPUs.

Samsung has already shown off samples made using its latest production technology to unspecified clients earlier this year, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Though the world's second-largest semiconductor company has a deal to produce Apple's A8 successor, tentatively named the A9, it is yet too early to begin production for the chips that will power the next iteration of the iPhone. The South Korean tech giant has repeatedly promoted its 14-nanometre FinFET-made chips as using 35 percent less electricity, while having 20 percent more processing power and taking up 15 percent less space than 20-nanometre chips, the process used by TSMC for its chips.

Samsung, however, is currently supplying its Cupertino-based rival with mobile DRAM and NAND flash memory, which began after the two decided to withdraw their ongoing lawsuits on patent infringement outside the US.

The South Korean tech giant is currently expanding its 17 line at Hwaseong, south of Seoul, one of its biggest hubs for memory chip production, largely to meet the high-volume order for DRAMs from Apple.

A Samsung spokesperson declined to name the company's clients.

Source: ZDNet.co.kr

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