TSMC to start production of 3nm chips in August

Asian Tech Press (Apr. 13) -- TSMC will start production of 3nm chips in August, ahead of Korean rival Samsung, according to Taiwan media reports.

Taiwan newspaper United Daily News (UDN) reported on Tuesday that TSMC decided to take the lead to mass produce 3nm chips this year.

In August this year, TSMC will tape out products using its second-edition 3-nanometer process N3B in its Fab 12B, TSMC R&D Center in Hsinchu, and the Fab18 at Tainan Science Park, officially taking fin field-effect transistor (FinFET) architecture to challenge Samsung's gate-all-around (GAA) process.

The report said TSMC's earlier development of 3nm process did not go smoothly, and the yield of the second edition of N3B did not meet expectations, can not promote mass production as expected, resulting in Apple's new generation of A16 processor this year can only use N4P, a performance-focused enhancement of the foundry's 5nm technology.

Later, the 3nm R&D team tried to design an improved 3nm process called N3E with fast yield improvement and cost optimization.

UDN revealed that after more than a year of hard work, TSMC has recently made significant breakthroughs in both N3B and N3E.

TSMC also previously pointed out that the three key indicators of 3nm performance are better than the previous generation of 5nm, including 1.7 to 1.8 times higher transistor density, and estimated chip performance can be increased by more than 10%, and power consumption can be reduced by 25-30% at the same level of performance.

It is said that TSMC will fully introduce the more cost-effective third edition of the 3nm process N3E in 2023, planning next year's monthly capacity will be multiplied to 50,000 pieces from 25,000 pieces at the end of this year, and depending on the progress of customer import, not ruling out the pull up to a higher capacity level.

N3E is expected to be used in Apple's newer generation of processors, including those for tablets and notebook computers, and also introduced to customers such as Intel, Qualcomm and other semiconductor manufacturers.

Sources from TSMC's supply chain also revealed that the chip maker's internal confidence in the smooth trial and mass production of 2nm technology has turned strong and expected to formally disclose the relevant progress in this year's technology forum.

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