Samsung Scores Chip Order To Produce 3nm Server CPUs For A Mystery Client

Samsung wafer news
Korean chip design company AD Technology has announced that it's making a server CPU for an as of yet undisclosed client, but the company did mention a pretty important point: this chip will be fabbed on Samsung's 3nm node. Thus far, Samsung's 3nm node has been out for over a year but so far has only seen usage for cryptocurrency mining ASICs. However, this design win for AD Technology and Samsung could be a sign of increasing traction for this cutting-edge process.

As one of three remaining semiconductor companies that are capable of manufacturing chips using the latest technology, Samsung has much riding on its 3nm node. For several years, more and more companies have been quitting the race for cutting-edge fabbing technology, but three companies have been keeping up since 10nm in the mid-2010s: Samsung, Intel, and TSMC. We may be overdue for another player to drop out of the race, and Samsung is perhaps the most vulnerable. Samsung's 3nm node might even be in dire straits if rumors about its poor yields are true.

However, being able to score a design win for a server CPU on its 3nm process may be a big deal for Samsung. AD Technology has been a Design Solution Partner (or DSP) of Samsung since 2020 and its server CPU is presumably based on ARM, as the company is also an Arm Approved Design Partner. AD Technology however is a relatively small semiconductor company, having made only $265 million in revenue in 2021 (up from $200 million in 2020) and has just over 100 employees listed publicly on LinkedIn.

Samsung 3nm wafers news

This server CPU probably won't be as high-profile as one from a company like AMD, NVIDIA, or Amazon given AD Technology's small size, though it does sound pretty high-end given it's a 2.5D design and uses HBM. Either way, it could still be useful as a pipe cleaner for 3nm. Cutting-edge nodes tend to have poorer yields when they first hit the market, and fabbing a real chip in volume can give Samsung all the data it needs to improve the manufacturing process.

Samsung's hope for the future is certainly that more customers will want to use its 3nm node, and AD Technology's server CPU could help raise confidence from the wider semiconductor market. For instance, Google is still making its Tensor chips at Samsung but its latest G3 processor is fabbed on the 4nm node, rather than 3nm. Increasing usage of Samsung's 3nm may convince Google (and other companies) that this cutting-edge node is ready for prime time. Samsung also has other versions of 3nm it's rolling out in the next couple of years, which could also be a key factor for 3nm's success.
Tags:  Samsung, CPU, 3nm