TSMC catches Samsung, starts 3nm chip production

TSMC catches Samsung, starts 3nm chip production

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Foundry TSMC has started production of its N3 generation chips – nominally 3nm – in Tainan, southwestern Taiwan. It has started producing the leading-edge chips six-months behind rival Samsung Electronics.

Samsung made a bold play to get ahead of TSMC by launching 3nm production in June 2022. However, TSMC’s more conservative approach has reportedly already brought production yields of between 60 and 80 percent for its N3 process.

By contrast, Samsung Foundry’s 3GAE yields at the early stages were reportedly at 10 to 20 percent and have not improved, according to the report that references industry sources.

Apple and Intel are likely to be the first initial customers for TSMC’s 3nm manufacturing process but slowdowns in various markets, particularly smartphones, have reduced the pressure on TSMC to speed its process to market

“Our 3nm technology will be used massively in future state-of-the-art technological products, including super computers, cloud servers, high speed internet and many many mobile devices,” TSMC chairman Mark Liu was reported saying at an announcement at the wafer fab in Tainan.

2nm in Taiwan

In the speech Liu confirmed that TSMC plans to build wafer fabs for the next node – nominally 2nm – in the Taiwanese cities of Hsinchu and Taichung.

This indicates that TSMC still intends to introduce its leading-edge chip manufacturing in Taiwan while making less advanced technologies overseas and closer to customers. In the last couple of years TSMC has held discussion or made decisions over manufacturing in the US, Japan and Europe.

Some observers have portrayed the encouragement of expansion of TSMC overseas as an attempt by other nations and regions to protect themselves from disruption in the event of China taking over Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China claims Taiwan is a renegade province that it will take back under control at some point.

Others have said that keeping leading-edge chip manufacturing in Taiwan acts as a ‘silicon shield’. The logic is that disruption caused by a blockade or invasion of the island would collapse the global economy with consequences that would be bad around the world but worse for China.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Samsung starts 3nm chip production ahead of TSMC

Rapidus seeks billions of dollars to use IBM’s 2nm process

Intel catching up with TSMC?

Chinese invasion of Taiwan would make TSMC ‘not operable’, says chairman

China must seize TSMC if the US tightens sanctions, says economist

Destroy TSMC if China invades, to make Taiwan ‘unwantable’, says US military paper

Samsung 3nm designs can start on Cadence EDA tools

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