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Samsung has started building a new chip production line in South Korea that will make advanced 5-nanometer chips for 5G networks, AI and other applications. Production is expected to begin in the second half of 2021.

The new production line, located in a facility south of Seoul in the city of Pyeongtaek, is the second of its kind to be built by Samsung. Samsung is also working on a 5-nanometer chip production line in nearby Hwaseong, which is on schedule to start producing processors this year.

The production uses a technique called extreme ultraviolet lithography. This technique uses rays of ultraviolet light to etch circuit patterns into the silicon wafers from which the processors are made. The beams have a shorter wavelength than the light produced by the previous generation of semiconductor production machines, allowing chipmakers to make smaller transistors.

New Possibilities

5-nanometer production is the latest and most efficient production method available in the semiconductor industry. Apart from Samsung, only TSMC uses the technology on this scale. Chips made on 5-nm production lines have smaller transistors, better performance and higher efficiency than current commercially available processors.

Last year, Samsung said its 5nm silicon offers up to 10 percent more processing speed and is 20 percent more efficient than seven-nanometer products.

“The new manufacturing facility will expand Samsung’s production capabilities for the sub-5nm process and allow us to respond quickly to the growing demand for EUV-based solutions,” said ES Jung, head of Samsung’s Foundry division.

Samsung’s largest competitor TSMC started making chips based on extreme ultraviolet lithography earlier this year. Rumour has it that Apple has reserved a large part of TSMC’s production capacity for a new processor for the next iPhone. Huawei on the other hand, has been denied orders by TSMC, because of the tradewar and ban from the U.S.