Samsung Electronics laid out its road map to expand its chip manufacturing business, including leading-edge semiconductors, as it looks to catch up with leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Perhaps best known for its smartphones, the South Korean technology company has a huge semiconductor business that is its main profit driver. It makes memory chips that go into data centers and laptops.
But Samsung also has a chip manufacturing business known as a foundry, which produces semiconductors for other companies that design chips, such as Qualcomm.
Earlier this year, Samsung said it would begin making chips with a 2-nanometer process in 2025. The company has now given a more detailed road map, saying it will begin mass production of the 2-nm process for mobile applications in 2025, then expand to high-performance computing in 2026 and to automotive in 2027.
The nanometer figure refers to the size of each individual transistor on a chip. The smaller the transistor, the more of them can be packed onto a single semiconductor. Typically, a reduction in nanometer size can yield more powerful and efficient chips.
For reference, Apple’s latest iPhone processor is made using a 5-nm process. Samsung anticipates that smartphones will require more advanced chips moving forward and is preparing for that in 2025.
High-performance computing refers to chips for data centers to train and deploy artificial intelligence applications, as Samsung looks to capitalize on the growth of the technology, partly spurred by the popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Nvidia, a market leader in AI chips, relies on foundries like TSMC to manufacture its semiconductors.
Samsung’s foundry lags Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s biggest contract manufacturer, by some distance. In the first quarter of the year, TSMC accounted for 59% of global semiconductor foundry revenue, versus 13% for Samsung, according to Counterpoint Research.
Samsung is now looking to play catch-up by upping its capacity and laying a road map out for high-growth areas in the chip market.
The company reiterated that its 1.4-nm process will begin in 2027 as planned.
Samsung also said it is continuing to expand its chip manufacturing capacity, with new manufacturing lines in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, and Taylor, Texas, which Samsung has previously announced.
Making a mobile chip requires a series of materials and process steps. The following are some of the main materials used in mobile chip manufacturing in general.
Silicon dioxide is widely used as an insulating material and isolation layer in chip manufacturing. It has excellent electrical insulation properties and chemical stability, which can effectively isolate different parts in the circuit and prevent mutual interference of currents.
Silicon dioxide is usually deposited on the chip surface to form a thin film by chemical vapor deposition (Chemical Vapor Deposition, CVD) or physical vapor deposition (Physical Vapor Deposition, PVD). These films can be used to make insulating layers, gate oxide layers, isolation layers for capacitors and transistors, etc. During the manufacturing process, the thickness and properties of the silicon dioxide film need to be precisely controlled according to the requirements of the chip design.
Overall, silicon dioxide plays an important role in mobile chip manufacturing, where it is used to insulate and isolate circuits, while also performing an important function in the packaging process.
In mobile chip manufacturing, gallium arsenide is usually used to make high-frequency and high-power radio frequency (Radio Frequency, RF) chips, optoelectronic devices and lasers. It has the advantages of high electron mobility, low energy band gap and high saturation drift speed, which make it widely used in high-speed communication and wireless network and other fields.
Manufacturing gallium arsenide chips usually uses technologies such as molecular beam epitaxy (Molecular Beam Epitaxy, MBE) or metal organic chemical vapor deposition (Metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition, MOCVD). These techniques grow gallium arsenide crystals on silicon substrates and form high-quality thin films for the manufacture of semiconductor devices.
Silicon wafers are used as the basis of circuits during mobile chip manufacturing. Through a series of process steps, such as photolithography, thin film deposition, ion implantation, diffusion and etching, various materials and structures are assembled on silicon wafers to form circuits and devices. Eventually, multiple chips could be cut from a single wafer, each containing complex electronics and circuits.
It is important to note that silicon wafer fabrication is a highly sophisticated process that requires specialized equipment and controls, usually in dedicated semiconductor fabrication plants. The quality and purity of silicon wafers play an important role in the performance and reliability of chips.
Ceramic Electronic Packaging Materials
Ceramic electronic packaging materials have excellent insulation properties, high temperature resistance, mechanical strength and chemical stability, making them ideal for packaging and protection of electronic devices.Ceramic electronics packaging materials are usually prepared by powder metallurgy techniques such as injection molding, pressing and sintering.They are used in the manufacture of components such as chip packaging substrates, package lids, insulating layers and heat dissipation materials to protect and provide support to chips and other electronic devices.