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A brand new report signifies TSMC’s 3nm course of node continues to be on observe, with plans to maneuver into danger manufacturing in 2021. Apple is alleged to have already locked in most of TSMC’s early 3nm capability.

A number of websites are repeating the concept this represents an acceleration of TSMC’s earlier roadmap. This isn’t true. Knowledge the corporate introduced at ISSCC in February 2021 aligns with the knowledge introduced at HotChips in 2020, particularly: 3nm is on-track for danger manufacturing in 2021, with quantity manufacturing to observe in 2022. “Danger manufacturing” is when a foundry begins constructing on a brand new node, however continues to be ironing out the kinks. Low yields are anticipated. Quantity manufacturing is when the chip is able to ship to prospects en masse. There’s usually a 6-12 month lag between danger and quantity manufacturing relying on the specifics of the node and general foundry timelines.

First, right here’s the slide TSMC confirmed again in August:

Now, right here’s an up to date slide from ISSCC 2021 with data on what sort of enhancements to count on from the 5nm –> 3nm node shrink.

From 7nm to 5nm, the estimated enhancements to efficiency and energy scaling fell, whereas the die density enhancements remained regular. That is additionally projected to be the case for 5nm, besides the efficiency positive factors will shrink. Energy consumption enhancements, at the very least, will nudge upwards a bit. Large density positive factors with out equal energy consumption enhancements are usually not all that nice, however they do signify the continued scaling of Moore’s legislation.

TSMC believes that product optimization and shifting ahead within the “Extra Than Moore” period requires the simultaneous leveraging of superior 3D packaging applied sciences, the in depth use of co-optimization methods that contemplate each facet of the SoC together with its anticipated software program workloads within the improvement course of, and the standard lithographic expertise enhancements that had been traditionally chargeable for shifting the needle with minimal assist wanted from anybody else.

Whereas TSMC and different producers are nonetheless protecting a number of dialogue centered on lithography, 3D packaging and interconnect are each areas we more and more hear mentioned when energy enhancements and efficiency positive factors are talked about. Anticipate to see these areas play a job in future TSMC enhancements as effectively.

TSMC’s danger manufacturing is alleged to focus on 30,000 wafers monthly, whereas quantity manufacturing is supposedly 105,000 monthly. The capability improve from one to the opposite is barely about three.5x, however danger manufacturing wafers even have a lot decrease yields. The overall distinction in availability isn’t simply by way of wafer begins however what number of of these wafers yield good die.

We had heard rumors of 3nm points again in 2020, however it seems to be as if the corporate is assured it solved them, in the event that they had been true to start with. If TSMC goes into danger manufacturing with 3nm on the finish of 2021, we’d count on it to ship the node for income in September or October of subsequent 12 months, when Apple launches the following iPhones.

Picture Credit score: Peellden, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

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