Samsung has reported they are beginning mass production of 7nm chips using extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL). This is a significant step forward for chip fabrication. 7nm alone feels like it borders on the physically impossible. But using EUVL brings in a lot of other benefits, like shrinking production cycles, and increasing potential transistor density.
Samsung is claiming some impressive numbers compared to their outgoing 10nm production, including 50% lower power consumption at the same frequency and 20% increased performance per watt.
Moving to EUVL production also means that it is now physically possible to move to processes below 7nm, although that appears to be some time off regardless.
As Samsung announces this, Intel is probably working on yet another refinement for their 14nm process.
Billy Tallis & Anton Shilov comment:
The launch of commercial production of chips using extreme ultraviolet lithography is a culmination of work by the whole semiconductor industry that began in 1985. Ultimately, EUVL is expected to reduce usage of multi-patterning when producing complex elements of a chip and therefore simplify design process, improve yields, and shrink cycle times (or rather not make them longer in the foreseeable future).