Although many semiconductor foundries are increasing production of their 3nm processes, the competition for next-generation 2nm contracts is already underway. Samsung recently announced a new deal with an undisclosed company to develop an AI chip using its upcoming 2nm node, marking an early victory for the company. Despite limited details on the agreement, this move signals Samsung's foundry business potential to compete with TSMC and Intel in future processes.
During its recent earnings call, Samsung revealed the 2nm contract without disclosing the partnering company. A report from Liberty Times Net highlighted Samsung's pursuit to catch up with TSMC in the battle for next-generation contracts. The order reportedly encompasses 2nm chips for AI applications, HBM3 memory, and advanced packaging, suggesting a data center-oriented product rather than a consumer-oriented one. The company plans to launch its 2nm SF2 process in 2025, utilizing an existing gate-all-around (GAA) process with Multi-Bridge Channel Field Effect Transistor (MBCFET) nanosheet design.
Samsung's 2nm node is anticipated to offer a 25% efficiency improvement at similar clock frequencies compared to its second-generation 3nm GAA design. It is also expected to provide a 12% efficiency enhancement at the same power levels, with a 5% reduction in total die size. Initially targeting smartphones, the new contract could signify Samsung's first PC-related agreement for its most advanced process. Speculations suggest the deal may involve a hyperscale data center company such as Google, Microsoft, or Alibaba.
This development signifies the intensifying competition for 2nm chips and beyond. Samsung aims to compete directly with industry leader TSMC in the 2nm landscape, aiming to replicate the success it achieved by introducing its 3nm process in 2022 ahead of TSMC. Meanwhile, TSMC is reportedly in discussions with Apple regarding the provision of 2nm chips for future iPhones and M-series SoCs. Intel also joins the fray with its upcoming Intel 20A launch featuring Arrow Lake. This potential market entry could position Intel as the first to introduce a 2nm product, surpassing Samsung and TSMC.
Rumors suggest Samsung may consider offering discounts for its 2nm wafers to attract business from TSMC and Intel, a strategy potentially validated by the latest contract. This move marks the beginning of a competitive race among foundries to secure clients for their 2nm processes, signaling an intense three-way competition in the semiconductor industry.