TSMC has announced a compact, lower-power version of its upcoming 16nm FinFET manufacturing process and has revealed details about its roadmap to even smaller process nodes. With Samsung ramping up production of its 14nm Exynos processor, TSMC is looking to forge ahead with its 10nm fabrication next year.
The Taiwanese semiconductor company is expected to ramp up 16nm FinFET production this summer, to begin competing with smaller manufacturing nodes offered by rivals Samsung and Intel. This is particularly important for mobile, where low-power and cooler chip footprints are becoming increasingly important as processor speeds increase. The foundry will have more than 50 tape-outs by year’s end, covering applications processors, GPUs, automotive and network processors, according to TSMC president and co-CEO Mark Liu.
TSMC’s compact version of 16nm FinFET is known as 16FFC and is designed for mid-to-low-end smartphones, wearables and other consumer electronics. The process aims to reduce power consumption by a further 50 percent and should make the company’s factories more appealing for low-power chip designs, especially in the mobile space.
Following that, TSMC is targeting 10nm manufacturing, with construction of its fab scheduled to begin next year. TSMC suggests that its 10nm process will have 2.1 times the logic density of 16nm, resulting in a 20 percent speed improvement and 40 percent power reduction.
“We think 10nm will be the long-lasting technology node and for TSMC to be accelerating 10nm, I think that is a very good sign for the industry,” – International Business Solutions CEO Handel Jones
TSMC’s 10nm production is expected to be ready near the end of 2016. The company has previously announced a collaboration with ARM to bring the ARMv8-A processor IP to TSMC’s future 10nm FinFET manufacturing process and suggests that more than 10 partnerships are in the works.
While Samsung may be TSMC’s immediate competition in the mobile space, the race to 10nm will see the company competing directly with the industry leader – Intel. Samsung is also working on 10nm technology, but a manufacturing timetable has not been announced. Intel’s 10nm production is expected to ramp up in the next 12 to 18 months, putting the two head to head by the start of 2017, providing that development remains on schedule.