TSMC launched a pilot production process 3nm

Although TSMC recently announced that the first 3nm wafers will not be available until 2023, which would mean that production by the N3 process should start sometime in a year. However, we must distinguish whether it is a matter of starting normal high-capacity production, or of pilot or test production, in which high error rate, low capacity and further tuning are expected.

This report (via MacRumors) states that normal high – capacity production using the 3nm process will start at TSMC in the last quarter of next year, so that customers will receive the resulting chips in the first quarter of 2023.

It is also a matter of the fact that the processing of one wafer by this process will be very time-consuming and even when using the EUVL it is necessary to use the technique double patterning, which basically represents twice the work and time required to do it, but it also depends on the capabilities of lithographic machines, where the need for two wafer exposures is taken into account. According to SemiAnalysis the production of chips on the N3 process should be significantly longer than in the case of the N5 (approx. 3 to 4 months), which specifically means even up to half a year. This is an estimate based on the amount of EUV exposures the wafer has to go through in the 3nm process).

And who will be the first to use TSMC’s 3nm process? It will be mainly Apple preparing its products for 2023, which should be, for example, the iPhone 15 with A17 chips or also Macs with M3 chips. None of this has been announced yet, and it is based only on how Apple labels its news. In the meantime, Apple should use the N4 (4nm) process for the iPhone 14 and Macs with M2 chips.

Then we have Intel, which is already eager for the latest processes of the TSMC company and will probably want to deploy the N3 in Meteor Lake processors (2023). If that happens, however, Intel will gain a technological advantage over AMD, which in recent years has never (or could not) use the most advanced process in the case of TSMC in the same year that mass production was launched with its help. Perhaps this is how Intel pushes itself to the forefront of TSMC customers is now the main reason (or the last straw) why AMD should angrily look for Samsung Foundry’s offer.

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Source: Svět hardware by www.svethardware.cz.

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