When Samsung introduced earlier this 12 months that it had began quantity manufacturing of chips utilizing its 3GAE (3nm-class, gate-all-around early) course of know-how, it by no means revealed what sort of parts it made on its modern node. Because it seems, Samsung makes use of 3GAE to fab an application-specific built-in circuit (ASIC) for cryptocurrency mining.
Samsung 3GAE fabrication technology is the business’s first course of that depends on gate-all-around (GAA) transistors which Samsung calls MBCFETs (multi-bridge channel field-effect transistors). GAA transistor structure reduces leakage present because the gate is now surrounded by the channel throughout all 4 sides; it additionally permits alteration of transistor efficiency and energy consumption by adjusting the channel’s thickness of the channel(s). GAAFETs are significantly helpful for high-performance and cell functions, which is why corporations like Intel and TSMC are working arduous to make use of them in 2024 – 2025.
However it seems like the primary business chip to make use of GAAFETs is a cryptocurrency mining ASIC, in keeping with TrendForce. The corporate will produce cell system-on-chips utilizing the 3GAE fabrication course of solely subsequent 12 months, analysts from TrendForce imagine.
Cryptocurrency mining chips are good autos to pipe clear a brand new manufacturing know-how as they’re comparatively easy, small, and comprise quite a few comparable items and buildings that can be utilized for redundancy to realize acceptable yields. In contrast, cell SoCs combine a great deal of utterly completely different components that use completely different transistor buildings, making it not possible to construct redundant items. That mentioned, it’s logical for Samsung to make use of crypto-mining ASICs to study extra concerning the efficiency, energy, and defect density of its 3GAE node. Subsequently, SMIC additionally used a MinerVa mining ASIC to test its 7nm-class node.
Whereas Samsung is often formally forward of TSMC and Intel with all-new nodes, in lots of circumstances, comparable chips made at TSMC can run quicker and attain larger yields. Maybe, the corporate units too aggressive objectives that can not be achieved concurrently. Nonetheless, it seems like Samsung’s 3GAE is nice sufficient to fabricate cryptocurrency mining ASICs with cell SoCs typically coming later.
When precisely is probably a extra essential query, as Samsung often introduces its all-new SoCs for its flagship smartphones early within the 12 months. Utilizing its 3GAE node to make a sophisticated SoC could be helpful for its smartphones, although it seems like 3GAE is probably not prepared to satisfy Samsung’s schedule for its next-generation Galaxy S handset.