Samsung Electronics laid out plans to bring to mass production in 2021 the architectural successor to FinFETS, gate-all-around (GAA) transistors, at the 3nm node. The South Korean giant also reaffirmed plans to begin 7nm production using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in the second half of this year at its annual foundry technology forum here Tuesday (May 22).
GAA technology has been under development since the early 2000s by Samsung and other firms. GAA transistors are field-effect transistors (FET) that feature a gate on all four sides of the channel to overcome the physical scaling and performance limitations of FinFETs, including supply voltage.
Samsung's proprietary GAA technology, known as multi-bridge-channel FET (MBCFET), has been in development since 2002, according to Ryan Sanghyun Lee, vice president of market for Samsung Foundry. MCBFET uses a nano-sheet device to enhance gate control, significantly improving the performance of the transistor, according to the company.
Samsung said last year that it planned to use GAA transistors at the 4nm node starting in 2020. However, industry watchers expected GAA to be in production no earlier than 2022.
Samuel Wang, a vice president in foundry research at Gartner, said he had expected Samsung to have GAA transistors production ready some time in 2022. "It looks like they are moving faster than that," Wang said.
"The Samsung roadmap was aggressive," said Kevin Krewell, I already knew they were moving fast on EUV, but this also sets a high bar."
But, Krewell added, "It's still a ways out and schedules can slip."
Last June, IBM and its research alliance partners Samsung and Globalfoundries described the process they had developed for making 5nm GAA transistors based on stacked nanosheets at the 2017 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits conference in Kyoto, Japan. Other chipmakers, including Intel and TSMC, are known to be developing their own versions of next-generation transistors beyond FinFET similar to GAA FETs.