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Samsung’s 2nd-gen 3nm process expected to enter prototype production soon

Rumor mill: If the rumors are true, Samsung is on track to meet its stated goal of beginning mass production of SF3 in the second half of this year. It will use the node to develop new product types and upgrade performance on the Galaxy Watch 7 later this year.

Late last year Samsung announced it would start mass production of its second generational 3nm process, sometimes called SF3, as well as the 4th generation 4nm process for HPC in the second half of 2024. Once achieved, that will be a significant milestone for the company as it will allow it to develop new product types.

It appears that Samsung is on track to meet this timeline. Unnamed industry sources have told Chosun that Samsung Electronics has begun production of prototypes using the second-generation 3nm process and is currently testing the chip’s performance and reliability. It is targeting a yield of over 60 percent for the 3nm second-generation process within the next six months.

Samsung began mass production of its SF3E, or 3nm gate-all-around early, manufacturing technology in 2022 with special nanosheets that widen channels to incorporate improvements in PPA, or power, performance and area. SF3 will use the company’s second-gen Multi-Bridge-Channel field-effect transistors (MBCFET), which is new fabrication technology that builds upon SF3E and introduces further optimization. Compared to SF4, SF3 has a 22 percent higher performance at the same power and transistor count, a 34 percent power reduction at the same clocks and complexity, and a 0.79x logic area reduction. In short, SF3 will be better suited for complex designs than the SF3E.

The upcoming Galaxy Watch 7, which is scheduled for release later this year, will have the first chip made on the SF3 node and is expected to be an application processor designed for wearables. The Galaxy Watch 7 will serve as a test bed and assuming all goes well, Samsung will implement SF3 into Samsung Electronics System LSI’s Exynos 2500 for the forthcoming Galaxy S25, which is expected to roll out next year.

Other rumors support the notion that the Galaxy Watch 7 will be significant for Samsung.

According to tipster Roland Quandt, the Galaxy Watch 7 will use an Exynos processor that is based on the Exynos 5535. It is possible that the chipset could be named the Exynos W940 – an upgrade from the Exynos W930 that powered the 2023 watches. If these reports are true, battery life – still a pain point for smartwatches – should be significantly improved in the Galaxy Watch 7 compared with the Watch 6.

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