Samsung Reaches ‘Perfect Level’ 3nm GAA Production Yield, But No Word If Qualcomm, MediaTek Will Adopt Newer Process

Omar Sohail
3nm GAA
Samsung chip engineers holding the company's 3nm GAA wafers

A Samsung official has said that the Korean manufacturer’s 3nm GAA process has reached a ‘perfect level’ of production yields. Previously, where TSMC’s yield rate was said to be 80 percent, Samsung was sitting at a downright disappointing 10 percent. With this improvement, Qualcomm and MediaTek might show interest in developing smartphone SoCs on this next-generation process.

With the 3nm GAA process showing improved yields, Samsung states that it is developing its second-generation process

Earlier, Qualcomm was reportedly unsure if it wanted to mass produce the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 on the 3nm process due to the high cost of wafers. This decision would give Apple a huge edge when it announces its A17 Bionic for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra. According to The Korea Economic Daily, Samsung is experiencing improved yields with its 3nm GAA process, which can only mean that both Qualcomm and MediaTek might regain confidence in their decision to mass produce cutting-edge silicon.

However, Samsung still needs to close the yield rate gap with TSMC in order to start receiving orders since Qualcomm wants to adopt a dual-sourcing approach in order to cut its wafer costs for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. This can only be achieved if TSMC and Samsung have a similar yield rate, otherwise, Qualcomm will have little choice but to stick with its Taiwanese foundry partner for the majority of orders, and that will only mean higher wafer costs for the San Diego firm.

Samsung's facility where it develops and mass produces 3nm GAA chips

With the yield improvement, a Samsung official said that the company is developing the second-generation 3nm GAA process without delay. Though no confirmation was given when these chips will be provided to relevant clients, it is likely that Samsung will start mass production sometime in 2024. Currently, Samsung holds a 16.4 percent market share in the world’s foundry market, according to September 2022 statistics, while TSMC dominates this segment with a 53.4 percent market share.

It is safe to assume that Samsung will not be a threat to TSMC’s dominance for the time being, so at least for now, it can improve its 3nm GAA yields further to facilitate companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek.

News Source: The Korea Economic Daily

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