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Samsung unveils ambitious five-year plan to manufacture advanced chips

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Samsung has announced a five-year plan to expand its production capacity for advanced chips by 2027. The timeline could help the company regain ground from semiconductor giant TSMC.

In its Tuesday press release, following an announcement at the annual Samsung Foundry Forum event, Samsung committed to expanding its production capacity for advanced nodes “by more than three times” by the year 2027. The company also plans to introduce a two-nanometer process in 2025 and a 1.4nm process by 2027.

The company says it’s responding to “significant market growth in high-performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence (AI), 5/6G connectivity and automotive applications,” which has made “innovation in semiconductor process technology critical to the business success of foundry customers.”

“The technology development goal down to 1.4nm and foundry platforms specialized for each application, together with stable supply through consistent investment are all part of Samsung’s strategies to secure customers’ trust and support their success,” Si-young Choi, president and head of Foundry Business at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. “Realizing every customer’s innovations with our partners has been at the core of our foundry service.”

 “Realizing every customer’s innovations with our partners has been at the core of our foundry service”

Samsung did not, in this announcement, detail concrete plans for specific chips that it plans to build on this process. That’s an important reminder that we may not actually see 1.4nm products on the market in the year 2027. That timeline will depend on other variables, including how quickly Samsung’s customers actually adopt the new transistors. All Samsung is saying here is that it will be ready to take customers to a 1.4nm node at that time.

Samsung’s chip arm is currently fighting an uphill battle in a market heavily dominated by TSMC. The firm previously counted Nvidia among its customers — the recent RTX 30 series was based on its 8nm process — but Nvidia has ditched them in favor of TSMC’s 4nm process for its high-end RTX 40 series after Samsung reportedly experienced yield issues. Apple was also a Samsung customer prior to the iPhone 6S, as 9to5Mac correctly points out, but Apple moved its business to TSMC for the iPhone 7.

The M2 chips that power recent MacBook models use TSMC’s “enhanced” 5nm technology, while current rumors suggest that Apple’s first 3nm MacBooks won’t hit shelves until at least 2023. Samsung’s new timeline means it could potentially catch up by 2027, though how that will play out in practice remains to be seen.

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