Gaming PC

3nm Chips for Smartphones and HPCs Coming This Year

TSMC officially started mass production of chips on its N3 (3nm class) process technology late last year, but the company is finally set to ship its first revenue wafers this quarter. During a recent earnings call with analysts and investors, the company said demand for its 3nm products was stable, with a number of designs slated for smartphones and high-performance applications later this year. Additionally, the N3E manufacturing node is on track for mass production later this year.

“We are seeing strong demand for N3, and we expect significant growth in N3 in the second half of this year, supported by both HPC and smartphone applications.” Said CEO CC Wei during TSMC’s earnings call. Talk to financial analysts and investors by phone.

Previously, the company did not comment on applications using its early N3 manufacturing process, but this time it has indeed revealed that the production device is designed for smartphone and HPC applications. HPC applications is a loose term TSMC uses to describe everything from handheld gaming consoles to ruggedized smartphone SoCs.

For customer privacy reasons, TSMC does not reveal which customers are using N3. However, historically, Apple has been an alpha client for his TSMC’s cutting-edge process technology, so it’s the most likely candidate to be TSMC’s biggest consumer of his N3 output.

TSMC’s baseline N3 node (aka N3B) is an expensive technology to use. It has up to 25 EUV layers ( china renaissance and semi-analytical) TSMC uses EUV double patterning in part to achieve higher logic and SRAM transistor densities than N5. EUV steps are generally expensive, and EUV double patterning increases the cost even further. As such, this manufacturing process is expected to be used only by a minority of customers who are less concerned about the high expense involved.

For the more cost-conscious, there is N3E, which allows up to 19 EUV layers “only” and does not use EUV double patterning. The good news is that TSMC plans to start mass production on this node by Q4 2023.

The N3E has passed qualification, met performance and yield targets, and is expected to enter volume production in the fourth quarter of this year,” said Wei.

sauce: TSMC

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