Today Samsung announced mass production of a SoC built on its third-generation 10nm "10LPE" manufacturing node. It was only this January that Samsung announced mass production of its 14LPP process that ended up being used in the Exynos 8890 and the Snapdragon 820 powering up a large amount of flagship devices this year.

This time around the announcement comes quite early compared to the past 2 years and I wasn't expecting any news from the foundry till maybe later in the quarter. This does however bode well for the SoCs built on the process as they seem they'll be able to easily make the spring 2017 device release schedule.

There wasn't any specification as to what kind of SoC the mass production announcement is refering to, but it's very likely we're talking about S.LSI's next generation Exynos - or maybe even Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 successor, both of which we'll hopefully hear official announcements from in the coming months.

Samsung’s new 10nm FinFET process (10LPE) adopts an advanced 3D transistor structure with additional enhancements in both process technology and design enablement compared to its 14nm predecessor, allowing up to 30-percent increase in area efficiency with 27-percent higher performance or 40-percent lower power consumption. In order to overcome scaling limitations, cutting edge techniques such as triple-patterning to allow bi-directional routing are also used to retain design and routing flexibility from prior nodes.


Credit: DAC 2016 Samsung/Synopsys Breakfast - Ready to Design at 10nm!

The process promises some significant speed and power efficiency advantages over current generation designs so it's likely the next generation of devices will see a large boost, similarly to how the first 14/16 SoCs had large improvements over previous generation 20/28nm designs.

Interestingly the new SoCs will have an edge on recent and upcoming designs still being released on 16nm manufacturing processes, such as Apple's A10 or other TSMC customers who have to wait till next year for 10FF. This presents itself as an opportunity for vendors such as Samsung and Qualcomm to try to close the performance and efficiency gap seen in the current generation through the manufacturing process' good timing.

Source: Press Release

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  • zodiacfml - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Not yet, but it is getting closer. Intel's 10nm will be a match for 7nm of these foundries.
    Intel seems to be taking their time as they don't seem to desire this market, for now, until entry-level PCs starts using ARM than Atom based CPUs.
    Reply
  • witeken - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Intel's 10nm will be about 1.6x denser than Samsung or TSMC's "10nm",

    PLUS, it could be significantly higher performance.
    Reply
  • jjj - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    "or other TSMC customers who have to wait till next year for 10FF"

    That's not true. It's hard to be sure how each ramps and who's first to market but TSMC's 10nm has been transferred from R&D to production in the third quarter. They will ship in Q1 and we'll see ...
    Claims of production start are relative and cycle times are long so LSI will likely not ship anything this year.
    The timing of the ramp also depends on the customer's schedule. it's not about when you can make it but about when the customer needs it. Apple will likely need 10nm for ipad and maybe Mac in March-April. Mediatek should be the first TSMC customer to go 10nm and likely in a rush to show phones at MWC. Huawei , if they have a new high end SoC on 16ff next month, might not be in a hurry to go 10nm and can afford to wait a few moths.

    Last year the announcement came long after production started considering that the S7 hit retail in mid March. This year Samsung needs to change the conversation from the Note 7 disaster so they put out any press releases they can.
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Apple will likely be first however A10X volume might not be that big so wouldn't be all that indicative, agree that MediaTek seems to be the larger 10nm volume client for the first half of the year but we don't know when exactly they are expecting devices. We know that SLSI and Qualcomm be be shippings in millions by March so that's at least definitely a full quarter advantage. Reply
  • jjj - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    MTK hasn't disclosed a precise timing and first half 2017 doesn't mean middle. Time to market matters so it's hard to imagine that they'll miss MWC if nothing goes wrong.
    As for Samsung and Qualcomm how do you know a timing and lets use devices in retail timing since from shipping to retail the gap can differ. Samsung is rumored to launch at MWC so similar schedule to this year. Granted, last year only Xiaomi and Samsung had SD820 devices in retail before April. Hard to say if it's better next year, will depend on how Samsung ramps 10nm, they could be capacity constrained.
    Qualcomm also needs more volume than MTK as X30 won't lead in perf and chances are Samsung has priority. If Qualcomm ships a first wave of 10 million units, it's all S8, if MTK ships 10 million units , it would be to a bunch of customers.

    Anyway, we assume about both but we don't really know yet who's gonna be first to market.
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    The X20 vastly missed the better first half of the year so I don't believe X30 will do that much better, some reports say devices by July. The S8 is pretty much guaranteed to be retail by end of March in high volume. Also I meant MediaTek being the larger 10nm TSMC volume client until the A11, obviously they're not competing for volume against Qualcomm. Reply
  • jjj - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    X20 wasn't aimed at high end and had no direct competitor as it was between SD65x and 820.
    Here the timing matters a lot more as it is a much larger investment and A73@ at least 2,8GHz paired with a 200+ GFLOPS Imagination GPU is pretty compelling. Ofc if MTK ends up needing a respin ,they'll be late.

    The volume comparison was about retail availability. S8 could suck all the SD supply at first so , at identical timing, that favors MTK. TSMC is also great at ramping production.
    After all, lest say they get 500 good dies per wafer. With 10k wafer starts per month that's 5 million SoCs per month, 15 million per quarter. Someone like Xiaomi or LeEco would need 2-5million per quarter. 500k to 1 million initial supply. TSMC was planning to ramp 10nm to 200k wafer starts per quarter so they really need to ramp it fast and peak in Q3- Q4 as 10nm is short lived.
    Reply
  • name99 - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    iPad volumes are larger than you think...
    The easy way to remember Apple volumes (order of magnitude) is they manufacture a million
    - iphones/business day
    - ipads per week
    - watches per month (perhaps going to increase to million watches/fortnight over the next year?)
    - macs/quarter

    So about a fifth as many iPads as iPhones. That's still ~50 million a year...
    Reply
  • jjj - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Not all ipads get refreshed at the same time and there are always older models still in retail.
    For example, if there is a spring refresh for just the Pro models, that's maybe 5-6 million units in the first full quarter of availability.The die is bigger than in an iphone but it's still not that much in terms of wafer starts.
    Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Perhaps. Truth is we don't really know the sales by model breakdown, and we don't know Apple's plans here. They may, for example, plan to release a full range of Pro models this time round, with an A10X in 7.9, 9.7, and 12.9 inch sizes, and having an A10X Pro model in the mini size might substantially jump sales? Reply

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