Published in PC Hardware

Sub-10nm processing slows

by on04 September 2018

Fabless chipmakers stick to 14/12nm

It is starting to look like fabless chipmakers are putting the brakes on sub-10nm chip production.

Digitimes is reporting how sub-10nm node manufacturing requiring huge capex, several foundries have slowed down their investment pace while fabless chipmakers stick with 14/12nm products for cost reasons.

Part of the issue is that the cost of developing sub-10nm chips is prohibitively high. HiSilicon recently said it would spend at least $300 million developing its new-generation SoC chip manufactured using 7nm process technology.

Fabless chip developers are concerned that huge investments on sub-7nm will not pay off.

Qualcomm and MediaTek have both moved to enhance their upper mid-range offerings by rolling out respective new 14/12nm solutions, Digitimes said.

The delays from Qualcomm and MediaTek will last until next year, which is a year late. It is possible that the delays are due to that other technology disrupter 5G. Focusing on the upper mid-range market segment could be their present and appropriate strategy.

Only TSMC and Samsung Electronics have revealed their 7nm node technology roadmaps. UMC has shifted its investment focus to mature and speciality process nodes, while Globalfoundries has decided to put its 7nm FinFET program on hold indefinitely.

Globalfoundries said the company "is reshaping its technology portfolio to intensify its focus on delivering differentiated offerings for clients in high-growth markets". The company plans to shift development resources to make its 14/12nm FinFET platform "more relevant to these clients".

UMC has reiterated its efforts to enhance operating profitability. UMC has put less focus on entering the advanced-node chip race and moved to enhance its existing process portfolios particularly speciality process technologies.

Last modified on 04 September 2018
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