Samsung reportedly investing in R&D for 3D stacking GAA technology

Daniel Chiang, Taipei; Jack Wu, DIGITIMES Asia 0

In 2022, Samsung mass-produced the 3nm process through the GAA architecture. Credit: Samsung

After memory products like NAND Flash and DRAM, it's reported that Samsung Electronics will conduct R&D for a "3D stacking" technology that can vertically stack system semiconductor transistors. Whether or not Samsung can gain dominance in advanced semiconductor technology with this move has drawn attention.

According to reports from Korea's ET News, the semiconductor research institute and wafer foundry department under Samsung's Device Solutions (DS) division are jointly promoting R&D for a vertically stacking GAA transistor architecture named "3DSFET."

In 2022, Samsung achieved mass production of the 3nm process using the GAA architecture. Right now, it's still a 2D structure with horizontally connected transistors. However, as semiconductor processes get more refined, miniaturizing transistors may lead to a short-channel effect, which would cause issues like current leakage. Thus, ensuring space has become a challenge as well.

To address these challenges, Samsung views a vertically stacked 3D structure as the next generation of GAA technology and has committed to commercial R&D. The objective is to minimize the electromagnetic interference (EMI) between chip units as much as possible and integrate more transistors into smaller spaces. It's the same logic as stacking NAND Flash to improve performance.

It's worth noting that right now, 3D stacking technology is only used for memory. Recently, major suppliers like Samsung, Sky Hynix, and Micron are also attempting to develop 3D DRAM to overcome the technical bottlenecks for DRAM technology below 10nm. If 3D GAA can be realized, it means that 3D stacking applications will be further expanded to the system semiconductor sector.

The industry expects that after advanced process transistor structures under 3nm shift to GAA, processes below 1nm will further shift to the 3D GAA architecture. If Samsung can successfully secure the 3D GAA technology, it could potentially strengthen its competitive advantage in advanced semiconductor process technology.

Industry sources stated that major semiconductor companies are actively investing in R&D to secure the 3D stacking technology for system semiconductor transistors. Those that can achieve the semiconductor structural revolution first will dominate the future market.