Samsung Electronics has begun producing contract chips using its 14-nanometre FinFET process, according to Kim Ki-nam, president of Samsung’s semiconductor business. However, we don’t know who Samsung is manufacturing chips for or exactly what sort of chip is currently in production.
Apple and Qualcomm, two of the smartphone industry’s largest chip purchasers, are likely candidates to be Samsung’s first 14nm customer, although the exact use for the chip remains unclear. AMD is another potential customer, as it looks to produce more energy efficient GPUs.
Some are suggesting that Apple may be interested in low-power chips for its Apple Watch, as it is little too early for production to begin for the Apple A9, which Samsung has a contract to manufacture. Reports earlier in the year suggested that Qualcomm was interested in 14nm technology for its SoCs, although the timing doesn’t seem right for production to begin either.
Samsung has been pitching its 14nm FinFET technology to potential customers throughout 2014, having shown off SoC demos a few months ago. This is potentially a big gain for Samsung, as it has beaten rival TSMC, which has its own 16nm FinFET technology, to the sub-20nm milestone.
Samsung touts that its 14nm FinFET chips consume 30 percent less power, take up 15 percent less space, and can boost performance by up to 20 percent compare with similar 20nm chips. It is worth nothing that most of the next generation Android smartphone SoCs, such as the Snapdragon 810 and Exynos 7410, are to be produced on 20nm processes.
I guess we will have to wait until next year to find out who is using Samsung’s 14nm manufacturing technology.