Samsung has announced that it has begun mass production of mobile application processors on its 14nm FinFET process technology, which the company states is an industry first. Compared to the company's existing 20nm process technology, 14nm FinFET is said to enable up to 20 percent higher speeds and 35 percent less power consumption.
As the industry moves towards smaller manufacturing processes, the physical limitations of transistor design have become more apparent. 3D FinFETs allow the electronic Field-Effect Transistor "gate" to wrap around three sides of a raised "fin" in order to provide adequate insulation against current leakage, which has been the primary limitation in scaling down the size of traditional planar MOSFETs (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors).
The first processors to use Samsung's new fabrication capabilities will be the Exynos 7 Octa series. The first Exynos 7 Octa will be a 64-bit SoC but further specifications have not been announced. It is likely that this processor will be used in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S6, widely expected to be announced at the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.
Samsung's foundry business also manufactures processors on contract for outside clients, most notably Apple and Qualcomm. It competes with TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which is working on its own 16nm FinFET node. Samsung last year announced a collaboration with competitor GlobalFoundries to share 14nm technology developments in order to offer combined capacities and help chip designers ramp up production.
Apple has used Samsung to manufacture its mobile A-series processors in the past, but shifted to TSMC following legal disputes between the two companies and potential concerns about production volumes. Recent reports indicate that the two companies are working together again on Apple's next-generation A9 series processors.