Samsung Electronics, the world's second-biggest chipmaker, is increasing its effort in semiconductor outsourcing by separating the company's foundry business into a new unit and announced a foundry process technology roadmap.
Specifically, Samsung aims to lead the industry with 8nm, 7nm, 6nm, 5nm, 4nm and 18nm FD-SOI in its newest process technology roadmap.
"The ubiquitous nature of smart, connected machines and everyday consumer devices signals the beginning of the next industrial revolution," said Jong Shik Yoon, Executive Vice President of the Foundry Business at Samsung Electronics. "To successfully compete in today's fast-paced business environment, our customers need a foundry partner with a comprehensive roadmap at the advanced process nodes to achieve their business goals and objectives."
The South Korean company on Wednesday also promised customers that it will have a new plant up and running by the fourth quarter of this year.
Creating a separate unit for the business may ease the concerns of some potential customers who compete with other parts of Samsung.
"As part of our commitment to play seriously in the foundry area we felt that it was best that we create an independent organization," said Kelvin Low, a senior director of foundry marketing. "That will result in less conflict of interest -- although that's not really an issue these days -- it's still a perception in some customers' minds."
Samsung's commitment underlines the importance of its chip unit and the growth in demand for outsourced production of chips. Currently, a few companies can afford to invest the billions of dollars it takes to build and equip plants and fund research into new manufacturing. TSMC, which dominates the market by producing components for companies such as Apple, has posted double-digit percentage revenue gains for the last five years.
In March, Intel, which is the world's largest maker of chips through its lead in the market for computer microprocessors, said it's recommitting itself to building its own made-to-order chip business and claimed its manufacturing is still ahead of Samsung and TSMC. All three companies fight for orders from companies such as Qualcomm and Apple, which design their own chips but don't own any manufacturing.
Currently the finest chip manufacturing process is 10-nanometer production. Samsung said it was the first to mass produce at that node and TSMC said it's now in full production of 10 nanometer with a rapid increase in output due in the second half of this year.