chipsets for smartphones currently are produced using the 7nm process. The smaller that number, the larger the number of transistors that can fit inside a chipset. As a comparison, the 7nm Snapdragon 855 SoC is more powerful and energy-efficient than the 10nm Snapdragon 835. And when the phones powered by 5nm chips start rolling out, perhaps by the middle of next year at the earliest, they will be more powerful and energy-efficient than the current 7nm SoCs.
We could be coming to the end of Moore's Law, which is an observation made by former Intel CEO Gordon Moore. Moore noticed that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit (IC) doubles every two years. Back in 1965 Moore originally said that the transistor count in an IC would continue to double every year. After a decade, he revised that to the current definition. If you want to blow your mind, consider that 5nm chips will have 171.3 million transistors per square millimeter
. And according to AnandTech
, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the company that actually manufactures the chips designed by Apple, Qualcomm, Huawei, and others, has started development of the 3nm process.
"On N3, the technology development progress is going well, and we are already engaging with the early customers on the technology definition. We expect our 3-nanometer technology to further extend our leadership position well into the future."-C.C. Wei, CEO and co-chairman, TSMC
Since 5nm chips are still 12 to 18 months away, TSMC won't discuss what the advantages of 3nm over 5nm will be. But the foundry did say that it looked at all possible transistor structure options for its customers and believes its solution will meet the requirements TSMC's customers have. The chip manufacturer notes that 3nm is a completely new technology and not just an improved version of the 5nm process.
In May 2018, Samsung revealed that it has a roadmap to 3nm
with production starting as soon as 2022. Samsung is ending the use of its FinFET technology with the 3nm mode and will introduce its Gate-All-Around (GAA) design. This will allow transistors to be stacked vertically instead of just laterally.
Will Moore's Law still continue past the 3nm process? That is the question that for now, we can't answer.