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TSMC and Samsung race to 10nm FinFET
Samsung’s decision to jump straight for 14nm paid off this generation, helping its latest Exynos 7420 SoC outperform and run cooler than the competition. However, the chip manufacturer may not have the same advantage next year, as TSMC is racing ahead with its own 10nm FinFET process.
TSMC already has its 16nm facilities online and is working on 16nm FinFET Plus (16FF+) for the second half of the year. The next stop is 10nm, and the company is expected to begin risk production on this process in the second half of 2016.
Risk production comes in the closing stage of process testing, where the manufacturer is looking to improve yields. It is around this stage that TSMC would begin talking to potential customers looking to use its facilities. Whoever proves to have a stable 10nm process first will likely win lucrative contracts from the likes of Apple and Qualcomm.
Local sources expect TSMC to enter risk production in Q2 2016, with mass production arriving some time in the second half of 2016. TSMC had previously said that it was expecting production to begin by the end of 2016. The company spent US$1 billion (1.14 trillion won) to help catch up with Samsung. It’s going to be close, but the latest report suggests that TSMC may be marginally ahead at this stage.
In terms of the benefits to us consumers, 10nm is expected to allow for improved processor clock rates of up to 20 perfect. Power consumption could also drop by as much as 40 percent compared with the 14nm process.
With big contracts at stake and falling profits from its mobile business, the race to 10nm is hugely important for Samsung. TSMC will be looking to win back customers after falling behind this generation. The race is well and truly on.