Despite the global shortage of chips, the origin of which is multifactorial, TSMC is staying the course. Taiwan-based semiconductor leader says its 3nm and 4nm chip manufacturing processes are on schedule and will hit market by 2022, says AnandTech. The 2 nm, which represents a major technological breakthrough, is in the process of development.
30 billion in 2021
At the start of 2021, the founder announced an ambitious plan to maintain its position as an undisputed leader. Over the next three years, it is planning a budget of 100 billion dollars to strengthen its production capacities and its R&D. 30 billion will be invested in the year 2021 alone. About 80% of this budget will be devoted to new manufacturing processes.
TSMC will thus continue the mass production of chips engraved in 5 nm, which are acclaimed by more and more companies. This fine engraving was initially reserved for Apple and HiSilicon (a subsidiary of Huawei). “We expect demand for the N5 to continue to grow over the next several years, driven by strong demand for smartphone apps and high performance computing.“said Charles Wei, the general manager of the Taiwanese company, quoted by AnandTech.
The N5P goes into production
In addition, in the coming weeks, the foundry is expected to start manufacturing chips using an improved version of its N5 technology called “N5P”. It can reduce energy consumption by up to 10% or a frequency increase of 5%. Chips engraved in 4nm are expected to follow and enter mass production phase in 2022. This technology is designed to offer better performance compared to the N5 while maintaining the same design rules.
But the most advanced manufacturing process that TSMC will offer next year will be the N3, corresponding to an engraving fineness of 3 nm. This is a whole new process, although it will continue to use FinFET transistors. Compared to the N5, TSMC promises that its N3 will increase performance by 10% to 15% or reduce power consumption by 25% to 30%. “The development of our N3 technology is on track and progressing well “, said Charles Wei, adding that its mass production was scheduled for 2022.
“Post-N3” technologies are in development, but without further details. They will represent a major technological breakthrough that will require significant technological innovations.
20% growth in 2021
TSMC has a solid technological roadmap that aims to consolidate its position in the chip market. “For the full year 2021, we forecast industry growth of around 16%“said Wendell Huang, chief financial officer of TSMC, quoted by AnandTech. “For TSMC, we are convinced that we will be able to surpass this growth (…) to reach around 20% in 2021”, he added.
At present, the Taiwanese founder does not seem to be worried about competition from Intel, which would not constitute an immediate threat although the latter is trying to get back in the saddle. After several decades of hegemony, for nearly 10 years, the American giant has suffered from recurring technical problems to develop its manufacturing processes.
The appointment of Pat Gelsinger, former CTO of Intel before becoming CEO of VMware, as CEO and his ambition to become one of the main founders for the United States and Europe are rather positive signals. But will they be enough to compete with TSMC or Samsung, who are currently eyeing their juiciest business: data centers? Nothing is less sure.