There are cost penalties associated with having multiple options. However, with a 14 nm FinFET fab at 40,000 WPM costing approximately $6.8 billion, it is smart to be well positioned if there are delays in volume ramp-up. Additionally, the reward for success within the 16/14 nm, 10 nm, and 7 nm environments can be very high, where the electronics industry will continue to expand and need more semiconductors.
It is also important to be able to transition the smartphone vendor base to China and meet the aggressive pricing structures of the China market, which can be done with FD-SOI. Adopting FD-SOI gives a high probability of having a cost-competitive and low-power option for high-volume mobile platforms.
While the cost of failure is in billions of dollars, spending a few hundred million dollars to support an attractive option can give good financial returns. A critical need for Samsung is to aggressively promote multiple generations of FD-SOI while continuing with its 14 nm and 10 nm roadmaps.
Samsung's culture is to win at everything (targeting $400 billion revenues in 2018 to 2019), and FD-SOI can be a key part of winning the mobile platform war in addition to the activities in 14 nm FinFETs.
— Handel Jones is founder and CEO of International Business Strategies Inc., which provides custom studies in multiple areas of the electronics industry.