European version: Samsung Foundry Forum has a guest in Munich

Europa-Ausgabe: Samsung Foundry Forum gastiert in München

At this year’s European edition of the Foundry Forum, Samsung once again reinforced the goals it announced this week. As a contract manufacturer, the company has big plans, but it wants not only to score points in high quality, but also in the areas of automotive solutions, RF and TSMC challenge.

All RAM technology at a glance

ComputerBase has already written the first report on the next expansion steps for RAM and graphics memory. But the roadmap provided by Samsung goes much further than that. In terms of new technologies and the year of their introduction, they are often far from reality, as HBM in particular has always demonstrated in the past. HBM4’s vision for 2026 here and today shouldn’t be a fixed thing.

Samsung DRAM 2022 roadmap (Photo: SemiWiki)

But the roadmap shows much more than that. Although it only calls it GDDR7, the gap to the end of the decade allows for more new developments such as GDDR7+ or even GDDR8. This is not only accompanied by improved and constantly updated production based on EUV technology, but also the capacity of memory chips will continue to grow. The 48G chipset should be available from 2028, thus it is assumed that they will be widely available to offer DDR6 and LPDDR6. Memory speed in this region is developing predictably and should officially exceed 10,000 MB/s as of 2027/2028 — that mark was first broken with high-speed DDR5 memory this spring.

The V-NAND roadmap is more than just history, but it also includes the next big step with V9, which should be available from 2024. By 2030, Samsung wants to stack more than 1,000 layers on top of each other. However, it remains to be seen whether this long-term goal will be achievable – the manufacturer first talked about this a year ago.

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Samsung's NAND story to 2024
Samsung’s NAND history to 2024 (Photo: SemiWiki)

Manufacturing technology, packaging and more

Samsung was recently in the spotlight because it was the first manufacturer to announce the start of production of a series of new transistors: Gate-All-Around (GAA). Because with more contraction structures since the introduction of FinFET, the short channel effect of transistor performance is once again relevant. Although the fin structure ensures stable conditions in the channel at production sizes of up to 5 nm, a new FET technology of about 3 nm is required. The further improvement in transistor performance comes from surrounding the last remaining side, below the channel, with an oxide and the contact gate as well. This creates a gate around the FET or GAAFET.

But the process was not and still is not easy, and Samsung had to overcome a number of obstacles. The former yield is also still largely unknown, and who will even get the first tranches based on this technology level. However, Samsung’s presentation of successes in the manufacturing stages is tasteful: there is not much difference between “first world” and “first foundry”.

Samsung's successes in the plumbing business
Samsung’s successes in the plumbing business (Photo: Samsung)

Speaking of yield: Samsung’s 4nm production has recently been in the spotlight, with the yield reportedly being or significantly below expectations. SF4, as Samsung calls this series, is in a massive development, with SF4 and SF4P, as the second and third steps in this series are called, the rate of return should soon be at the level of SF5E. The SF4X follows as the HPC solution last, with the SF4A there is also an automotive-specific process. Regarding the SF4E entry process, Samsung only indicated that the yield is improving, without giving specific numbers. However, the bottom line was that it was below average and probably still is.

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Foundry plans to 2027
The foundry plans to 2027 (photo: Samsung via Twitter)

Factory schemes and the European question

Samsung is making modest progress in its expansion plans. There are new factory buildings, but they are being implemented mainly on already known sites. In South Korea, the huge campus in Pyeongtaek (PT) in particular is growing. New additions are set to run there constantly, thus contributing to Samsung’s ability to significantly expand its capacity on the latest technology in the coming years.

Samsung foundry locations in South Korea
Samsung foundry locations in South Korea (Photo: Samsung)

The new plant in the US should also help from 2024, the first truly new location in many years. Here, too, Samsung sought to move closer to an existing plant, which facilitated the transfer of personnel and technology, or even the transfer of chips.

Samsung Foundry locations in the US
Samsung foundry locations in the US (Photo: Samsung)

When I asked Samsung about the situation with a factory in Europe, the company diplomatically replied that there are currently no plans for that. You don’t say no across the board to other regions outside of Korea or the US, but you do combine the advantages of the short distances and existing infrastructure already mentioned. However, keep an eye out for all possible possibilities in the future.

According to their own statements, they are still in their infancy in Europe and therefore still a very small foundry. So the focus here is first and foremost on extended customer support, and above all, Samsung is looking at the automotive sector.

ComputerBase was invited to the Foundry Forum by Samsung and received some information in advance and under a non-disclosure agreement, as well as at a separate press conference. Posting of presentations is not allowed with certain exceptions.

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