The world’s largest contract chipmaker, TSMC, will bring in three new manufacturing processes by 2025 if all goes according to plan. The switch to N3 with 3-nanometer frameworks is planned for this year, and Apple has traditionally been an early customer.
However, the first 3nm processors for the retail market are still a long way off: Apple’s next generation of processors, the M2 series for the new MacBooks and the A16 for the iPhone 14 Pro, are expected to have 4nm frames. , only the successors. M3 and A17 should appear with 3nm technology. CPUs and GPUs for desktop PCs and laptops typically follow next, with AMD, Intel, and Nvidia likely buyers.
The N3 process shrinks transistors by up to 70 percent compared to the 5nm N5 process, according to TSMC. The speed of the corresponding chips increases by 15 percent at the same power consumption or the power consumption drops by 30 percent at the same speed.
N3E as a complement
A year after the first 3nm process, the N3, comes the modified version, the N3E, which aims to further increase efficiency, relax design rules a bit, and improve the performance of functional chips. In announcing the latest trade figures, TSMC chief CC Wei told the analyst conference (PDF) that the N3E process is well underway.
Analyst firm Morgan Stanley expects series production to start as early as the second quarter of 2023. According to a text message (via Twitter) TSMC is making changes to four layers to expose them using legacy immersion lithography instead of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavelengths. On the downside, this would reduce transistor density by about 8 percent, so the advantage over N5 would be only 60 percent – CPUs and GPUs, for example, would need slightly more chip area than with process N3.
N2 from 2025
Meanwhile, TSMC is planning risky production with 2nm frames by 2024, followed by serial production in 2025. Wei expects the latter to be available by the end of 2025, so the corresponding processors should appear in products from now on. early 2026. The N2 process brings the biggest change since the 14/16nm generation with its 3D FinFET transistors: in the successor Gate All Around (GAA), the gate electrode surrounds the conducting channel of the field effect transistor (FET) on all sides. . TSMC has not yet commented on the relative advantages in terms of transistor density, speed and efficiency.
Production of the 18A series is scheduled to run at Intel in 2025. Both companies want to offer the best manufacturing process right now – the competition will be exciting there.