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Thursday, November 23, 2017
Samsung Foundry in Advanced Discussions With New Customers for 7nm Chips

Samsung Electronics has reportedly secured two new customers from for its 7-nanometer foundry business, a positive development for the company after Qualcomm's decision to select TSMC for its upcoming 7-nanometer chips. claims Samsung is currently discussing contracts with two "large-scale semiconductor manufacturers" from the U.S. and China. The report says that the U.S. manufacturer has already agreed with Samsung for the production of test chips. The Chinese manufacturer is a company that develops System on Chips (SoC) for mobile devices and is discussing internally about choosing Samsung instead of Taiwanese companies for the production of is 7nm chips, the report added.

Samsung has not provided any comment.

Samsung has already introduced its 7nm Process Design Kit (PDK) v0.1. A revised version will be released sometime this month.

A PDK is a set of files used within the semiconductor industry to model a fabrication process for the design tools used to design an integrated circuit. The PDK is created by the foundry defining a certain technology variation for their processes. It is then passed to their customers to use in the design process. The customers may enhance the PDK, tailoring it to their specific design styles and markets. The designers use the PDK to design, simulate, draw and verify the design before handing the design back to the foundry to produce chips.

Qualcomm and Broadcom are designing their next-generation chips using TSMC's 7nm PDK. TSMC is planning to produce 7nm chips using optical lithography, and plans to begin testing EUV in order to use it for 5nm in 2019.

Samsung has been the most aggressive in adopting ASML's EUV. In 2018, the company plans to implement EUV at the 7nm node in its foundry process. This could delay the commercialization of Samsung's 7nm chips compared to TSMC. On the other hand, Samsung will gain experience in EUV earlier than TSMC.

Samsung is expecting to produce 40,000 to 50,000 units per month from its EUV 7nm plant, including the chips for its new customers as well its own Exynos SoCs. Samsung's strategy is to also move quickly in the commercialization of the 6nm process, in an effort to regain customers from TSMC.

The South Korean foundry is currently finalizing negotiations with Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province regarding the construction of new 7nm plant - a 6 trillion won ($5.52 billion) project. The foundry will use dozens of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) exposure devices.

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