The word from South Korea is that Samsung plans to invest $6.98 billion (8 trillion South Korean Won) into extending its high-tech semiconductor production lines. Specifically, Samsung is looking to remain on the cutting edge by making supplemental investments into its 10-nanometer production lines while building out new facilities capable of producing 7nm semiconductors.
Samsung has some empty space located in Hwasung-si that it plans to fill with equipment than can fabricate 10nm chips. It has already ordered the necessary machinery from major domestic and foreign partners. The investments will kick in next month, while the equipment Samsung ordered will arrive sometime in the first half of this year. Samsung's goal is for the new spot to be producing 10nm semiconductors in the second quarter.
This move to extend its 10nm operations will gobble up around $2.18 billion of its nearly $7 billion investment. When things are in place, Samsung will be able to churn out 18,000 10nm semiconductors per month from Hwasung-si. That is on top of the 25,000 10nm chips it is already producing on a monthly basis. Both Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip (SoC) and Samsung's own Exynos 9 series (8895) are produced from Samsung's 10nm production lines.
While this is going on, Samsung is putting into the place the pieces to fabricate 7nm chips that are expected to be commercialized in 2018. Part of the motivation with the investment into 7nm is to win back some of the supply orders that Apple shifted to Taiwan's TSMC for its mobile products.
Moving to 7nm will also keep Samsung on the bleeding edge. It hopes to have new facilities, clean rooms, and equipment ready by the end of the year, with an eye towards establishing a mass production system. That is, if everything goes to plan.
Die shrinks at this stage are tricky, as Intel found out with its 10nm Cannonlake. Manufacturing issues prompted Intel to delay the roll out of its Cannonlake processors and fill the gap with more 14nm processor lines, namely Kaby Lake (available now).