Samsung Electronics and TSMC in Taiwan are racing to build 5-nanometer (nm) semiconductor mass production lines.
Samsung Electronics has reportedly begun the construction of a 5-nm foundry production line. The new line is expected to be installed in V1 Line of Hwaseong Plant in Gyeonggi Province. V1 Line is a dedicated line for an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) process that began operation in February this year.
Samsung Electronics is expected to establish a full-scale 5-nm mass production system at the end of this year or early next year. In April last year, Samsung Electronics completed the development of EUV-based 5-nm process technology. V1 Line is expected to roll out Qualcomm’s X60 5th-generation mobile communication modem chips.
TSMC of Taiwan has already established a 5-nm mass production line. It is predicted to begin mass production of Qualcomm's X60 chips next month. If it does begin volume production of 5-nm semiconductors in April, it will be the first company to succeed in mass production of chips using a 5-nm EUV foundry process.
Samsung Electronics and TSMC are competing not only to become the first to start volume production of 5-nm chips but also to be the first to develop a 3-nm process, which is more advanced. Samsung Electronics is determined to take the top spot in the global foundry industry. This year, it will speed up the development of a 3-nm process. The company presented a long-term vision of investing about 133 trillion won in order to be the top player in system semiconductors by 2030.
In response, TSMC also began to make large-scale investments in the development of a 3-nm process. The company announced a plan to execute US$15 billion for research and development and recruit more than 4,000 additional personnel.
"In addition to the development of technology to take the lead in the semiconductor micro-fabrication process market, competition to start mass production first to receive orders for the latest products is getting fiercer," an industry official explained.