TSMC is putting in the hands of its customers the first processors manufactured with a 5 nm lithographic process, which has been in use for a few weeks now. The company has made advances in its direct successor, the 5 nm+ (N5+) process, and according to the not always reliable Digitimes this process would go into mass production in the last quarter of 2020.
TSMC 5nm Technology is Becoming More Mature
Based on these production start dates, the first devices with chips manufactured to N5+ would arrive in the first quarter of 2020, which is when conventions such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Mobile World Congress (MWC) take place. I see TSMC starting production a little early in that quarter, but if they do I would expect it to be more in December, so the chips would be coming to customers more in March, and I would expect devices with them to be launched in April.
TSMC continues to be unstoppable in the production of 5 nm chips, with the first devices with chips manufactured with its state-of-the-art 5 nm process – early Q4 at the latest – just around the corner. But as the lithographic process industry evolves, which is an outrage, TSMC is already talking about its 2 nm process.
TSMC Starts 2-3nm Process Development
The company is completing the development of its 3 nm process, which will be ready sometime in 2021, with the intention of bringing it to market in 2022. The development of the 2 nm process will receive a cash injection from the company, which already spends $16 billion annually on R&D.
TSMC has purchased additional advanced wafer production scanners to support the development of the 2 nm node. The development plan for this new node has not yet been finalized, but it is expected to be on the market around 2024.
TSMC is keeping up the momentum with Samsung on the development of lithographic processes, and after advising that development of the 3 nm will be completed in 2021 to begin testing its production, it has now come to comment that the 2 nm process is already in development. At least that is what they say from the not always reliable Digitimes.
This phase is the preliminary one, to investigate how they can go from 3 nm to 2 nm, how to adapt the extreme ultraviolet light scanners, and with what form of the transistor. The first chips using this process, if they share machinery and methodology, would not reach the market before 2024, as the first chips at 3 nm will not arrive in the first products until 2022.
TSMC New Factory in the US
In recent days there were rumors that the world’s major chip foundries would open new factories in the U.S. and so far it has been confirmed that TSMC is going to do so. It will be one of the most advanced in the world as it will focus on wafer fabrication with a 5 nm lithographic process, begin construction in 2021 and be operational in 2024. Not that it will be state-of-the-art by then, but the 5 nm process will be the most widely used.
TSMC will invest $12 billion in the plant between 2021 and 2029, which will also create 1,600 highly skilled jobs as well as hundreds of indirect jobs related to plant activity. It will be located in Arizona (USA) and joins the factory that already has in the country in the state of Washington and the development centers in Texas and California.
The production of this factory at the time of its opening will be 20,000 wafers per month, which is far below what some of the company’s Taiwanese factories produce, which is over 100,000 wafers per month. It can be assumed that the 12 billion invested between 2021 and 2029 will also be directed towards expanding production and improving machinery.