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TSMC N3 will be a Record Setting Node!

TSMC N3 will be a Record Setting Node!
by Daniel Nenni on 05-19-2022 at 6:00 am

TSMC Wafer 2022

With the TSMC Technical Symposium coming next month there is quite a bit of excitement inside the fabless semiconductor ecosystem. Not only will TSMC give an update on N3, we should also hear details of the upcoming N2 process.

Hopefully TSMC will again share the number of tape-outs confirmed for their latest process node. Given what I have heard inside the ecosystem, N3 tape-outs will be at a record setting number. Not only has Intel joined TSMC for multi-product high volume N3 production, it has been reported that Qualcomm and Nvidia will also use N3 for their leading edge SoCs and GPUs. In fact, it would be easier to list the companies that will not use TSMC for 3nm but at this point I don’t know of any. It is very clear that TSMC has won the FinFET battle by a very large margin, absolutely.

“The most outstanding news of TSMC in 2021 was the success in attracting more new business from Intel, while being able to maintain great relationships with existing customers such as AMD, Qualcomm and Apple. With its 3 nm N3 entering volume production later in 2022 with good yield and 2 nm N2 development being on track for volume production in 2025, TSMC is expected to continue its technology leadership to support its customer innovation and growth. Thanks to the demand of bleeding-edge technologies, TSMC’s foundry leadership position seems to have become even more concrete in recent years.”

Samuel Wang, analyst with Gartner, from their recent analyst report: “Market Share Analysis: Semiconductor Foundry Services, Worldwide, 2021” that went live on May 9, 2022.

Now that live events have started up again in Silicon Valley the information flow inside the semiconductor ecosystem has returned to pre pandemic levels. I have attended (6) live semiconductor events thus far in 2022 and have several more to go before the biggest foundry event The 2022 TSMC Technology Symposium which kicks off at the Santa Clara Convention Center on June 16 followed by events in Europe (6/20), China (6/30), and Taiwan (6/30).

SemiWiki has covered the TSMC events for the past 11 years and we will have bloggers attending this year as well. This is the number one networking event for TSMC customers, partners, and suppliers so I can assure you there will be a lot to write about.

Here is the most recent update on technology development from TSMC:

  • TSMC’s 3nm technology development is on track with good progress, and the company has developed complete platform support for HPC and smartphone applications. TSMC N3 is entering volume production in the second half of 2022, with good yield.
  • TSMC N3E will further extend its 3nm family, with enhanced performance, power, and yield. The Company also observed a high level of customer engagement at N3E, and the volume production for N3E is scheduled for one year after N3
  • Faced with the continuous challenge to significantly scale up semiconductor computing power, TSMC has focused its R&D efforts on contributing to customers’ product success by offering leading-edge technologies and design solutions. In 2021, the company started risk production of 3nm technology, the 6th generation platform to make use of 3D transistors, while continuing the development of 2nm, the leading-edge technology in the semiconductor industry today. Furthermore, the company’s research efforts pushed forward with exploratory studies for nodes beyond 2nm. TSMC’s 2nm technology has entered the technology development phase in 2021, with development being on track for volume production in 2025.

TSMC also introduced N4P process in October 2021, a performance-focused enhancement of the 5nm technology platform. N4P delivers an 11% performance boost over the original N5 technology and a 6% boost over N4. Compared to N5, N4P will also deliver a 22% improvement in power efficiency as well as a 6% improvement in transistor density.

TSMC introduced N4X process technology at the end of 2021, which offers a performance boost of up to 15% over N5, or up to 4% over the even faster N4P at 1.2 volt. N4X can achieve drive voltages beyond 1.2 volt and deliver additional performance. TSMC expects N4X to enter risk production by the first half of 2023. With N5, N4X, N4P, and N3/N3E, TSMC customers will have multiple and compelling choices for power, performance, area, and cost for their products.

Bottom line: This will be one of the more exciting TSMC Technical Symposiums. TSMC N2 has been under NDA while the IDM foundries have been leaking details about their upcoming 2nm processes. This is a classic marketing move, when you don’t have a competing product today, talk about tomorrow.

One thing we should all remember is that all of the leading semiconductor companies, with the exception of Samsung, are collaborating with TSMC. The TSMC ecosystem consists of 100s of customers, partners, and suppliers and it is like no other. If you think another foundry will have a higher yielding 2nm process that can support a wide range of products you would be wrong.

Also read:

Can Intel Catch TSMC in 2025?

TSMC’s Reliability Ecosystem

Self-Aligned Via Process Development for Beyond the 3nm Node

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