TSMC is reportedly poised to begin production of a 3-nanometer fabrication process for manufacturing new processors in the second half of this year – almost a year ahead of schedule.
That’s according to Digitimes, which reports that while Samsung has been forced to delay its 3nm chip production as a result of the pandemic, TSMC is on track to begin churning out 3nm risk production wafers by the end of 2021.
However, it’s unlikely any of these 3nm will be showing up in PCs any time soon. Reports suggest that Apple has ordered up TSMC’s entire initial production batch for use in both future iOS devices and Apple Silicon hardware.
Separate rumors suggest that Intel’s bread-and-butter CPU products will be mass produced by TSMC on 3nm in the second half of 2022, with the chipmaker allegedly set to become TSMC’s second biggest customer after Apple.
If true, it means that the likes of AMD and Nvidia will have to make do with TSMC’s existing 7nm and 5nm supply for the time being.
Digitimes reports that TSMC’s initial 3nm production run is expected to be around 30,000 silicon wafers per month, with capacity expansion expected to hit around 105,000 wafers per month in 2023.
For comparison, TSMC produces approximately 140,000 7nm wafers each month and 105,000 5nm wafer every month, with plans to further expand this to 120,000 units by the end of 2021.
While yet to enter production, TSMC has previously claimed that its 3nm process will provide a performance increase of between 10% and 15% over even its recent 5nm process. It’s also said that 3nm chips will offer between 20% and 25% increased energy saving.
TSMC, while ahead of the pack, won’t be alone in the 3nm manufacturing space While it’s been forced to delay 3nm production, Samsung is expecting to start mass producing 3nm silicons starting in 2020. This could be good news for Nvidia, which has already turned to Samsung to help it alleviate shortages of its RTX 30-series GPUs.