Semiconductor process continues to shrink, facing the physical limits, when the global 2 nanometer chip advanced process battle has been blown.
According to foreign media news, following TSMC, Samsung, Intel, IBM to increase the code 2 nanometer, the battle for advanced process escalated again, Japan and the United States reached a consensus, said the earliest in 2025 in Japan to establish 2 nanometer semiconductor manufacturing base.
Why are the top manufacturers imperative to 2nm?
As the next advanced process node after 3nm, 2nm is critical for technological innovation.
TrendForce analyst Qiao An said that the semiconductor process has gradually approached the physical limit, so the change of transistor architecture, the application of new materials, or the evolution of packaging technology will be the key to continuously improve the performance of the chip and reduce power consumption. The industry believes that 2nm is expected to become a new turning point in the innovation of new structures and the introduction of new materials.
First of all, the structure, according to the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS) planning, after 2021 to 2022, fin-type field effect transistor (FinFET) structure will be gradually replaced by the wrap-around gate (GAAFET) structure. The so-called GAAFET structure is to enhance the control of the conductive channel of the crystal through a larger gate contact area, thereby reducing the operating voltage, reducing leakage current, and effectively reducing the chip computing power and operating temperature.
From 3nm onwards, the industry has shown signs of transition from FinFET structure to GAAFET structure technology node, TSMC said that the 3nm architecture will follow the FinFET structure, while Samsung chose to use GAAFET structure.
The advancement of the 2nm process will carry this trend to the end. Industry sources revealed that TSMC's 2nm process will also use the GAAFET architecture.
With the refinement of the chip manufacturing process, silicon-based chip materials can no longer meet the needs of the industry's further development in the future. 2nm process may introduce some new materials, including two-dimensional materials (such as graphene, transition metal compounds) and one-dimensional materials (such as carbon nanotubes) attract attention. In the case of carbon nanotubes, they have very high carrier mobility, very thin body size and excellent thermal conductivity. Overall, the introduction of new materials may bring new changes to the industry.
The head of the manufacturers 2 nanometer rampant
At present, the 2nm track of major manufacturers is relatively stalemate, TSMC first, Samsung, Intel, IBM group followed closely behind.
1 .TSMC 2nm R & D first
TSMC is a leader in 2nm R&D. In 2019, TSMC announced the launch of the 2nm process. Previously TSMC had announced that it would spend nearly $30 billion in 2022 for 2nm, 3nm and other process R&D, and expects 2nm to achieve 2nm pilot production in 2024 and full mass production in 2025.
And recently there is good news from TSMC, industry news shows that TSMC has made a major breakthrough in 2nm advanced process R&D and has successfully found the path to cut into GAAFET technology.
Vertical comparison of the head manufacturers, TSMC has a greater hope to take the lead in mass production of 2nm chips, after all, TSMC has been in the lead in the advanced process, its launch of 7nm in 2018, 5nm in 2020, 3nm this year is also about to mass production. In addition, according to TrendForce, TSMC occupies the first position among the top 10 foundries in the fourth quarter of 2021, and its revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 reached $15.75 billion, up 5.8% QoQ, holding a global market share of more than 50%.
2 .Samsung first to enable GAA process
In the race for advanced processes, Samsung and TSMC have been keeping up with each other.
In May this year, Samsung announced that it will invest $360 billion in the next five years in the semiconductor and biopharmaceutical industries, with a particular focus on advanced processes. Samsung previously made adjustments to the chip process roadmap, will skip the 4nm process, from 5nm directly up to 3nm, and in the 3nm process was the first to announce the use of GAAFET technology.
Specific to the time node, in October 2021, Samsung announced that the 3nm chip has started successful flow, will start production in the first half of 2022, and said the 2nm chip will be mass produced in 2025, both chips will use GAAFET process.
Recently, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong opened a 7-day European shuttle tour, according to Korean media reports, he will approach the lithography giant ASML for priority supply of EUV lithography. It is reported that the realization of the 3/2nm process is highly dependent on ASML's new generation of EUV lithography. Industry sources show that ASML shipped 48 units of EUV equipment in 2021, Samsung and TSMC purchased 15 units and 20 units respectively.
3. Intel seeks cooperation to achieve the bend
In addition to spending big to develop its foundry business, Intel is not willing to lag behind in advanced processes. in July 2021, Intel announced its latest technology route and made changes to important process naming: 10nm technology was renamed Intel 7, 7nm technology was changed to Intel 4, 5nm technology was changed to Intel 3, and 2nm technology was changed to Intel 20A. and said that Intel 3 mass production in the second half of 2023, Intel 20A mass production in 2024, Intel 18A process will be launched in 2025. And at the 2nm node, Intel will shift from the FinFET process to its GAAFET transistors called RibbonFET.
In addition, according to foreign media sources, Intel around to seek cooperation to strengthen process development. Since the beginning of this year, it has been rumored that Intel will seek cooperation with TSMC, Samsung, IBM and other cooperation to jointly develop 2nm process.
4. IBM sprint 2 nanometer manufacturing process
IBM is a leader in advanced process research and development, it has been the first to launch 7nm, 5nm and even 2nm process. 2021 May, IBM released the world's first 2nm manufacturing process, and in the United States Albany, New York factory to show the 2nm process production of the complete 300mm wafer.
As previously reported by foreign media, IBM has signed a joint development agreement with Samsung and Intel. However, the technology is still in the proof-of-concept stage, and may take several years to be put on the market.
It is reported that IBM is stronger in laboratory research and development, and does not have the same advantage in mass production on the scale. Industry speculation, IBM and Samsung, Intel and other cooperation, perhaps with Samsung, Intel's foundry and other advantages, to promote 2 nanometer accelerated landing.
At present, the industry competition in the advanced process is intensifying, the global head enterprises 3nm process has not been officially mass production, 2nm process competition has gradually white-hot. The enthusiasm for new technologies always brings surprises, and we will wait and see whether the pursuit of 2nm will bring new changes to the industry.