Samsung may be the first to mass produce the industry’s first 10nm SoC, but that doesn’t mean TSMC can’t prepare for what’s to come in the future – the Taiwanese chipmaker is apparently planning to build a new factory for future processors built on a 5nm and a 3nm design.
TSMC wants to make chipsets even smaller – I mean, who doesn’t? That means more room for other components all the while being more power-efficient. But before we get ahead of ourselves, the reality is that these 5nm and 3nm chipsets are a long way away. After all, TSMC hasn’t even unveiled its 10nm chips yet. According to leaked documents, TSMC will begin 10nm production this year for next iPhone’s A11 chipset.
However, the Taiwanese semiconductor giant certainly seems to be looking ahead as the competition to produce smaller and smaller chips grows. Nikkei Asian Review reports that TSMC is planning on building a $16 billion advanced chip facility in order to maintain its lead in the global market:
We’re asking the government to help us find a plot that is large enough and has convenient access so we can build an advanced chip plant to manufacture 5-nanometer and 3nm chips.
Easier said than done, however. The smaller the chip, the more advanced it is, but also the harder it is to manufacture. TSMC has previously said that the company is looking to push out 7nm chips by 2017 and 5nm chips by 2020, but I personally think that’s overly optimistic. Mass producing 10nm chips is hard enough as it is – and that’s precisely why Samsung is one of the very few companies with the necessary resources to do it. Thermal challenges as well as other optimization issues are going to take a significant amount of time to be addressed fully when it comes to even smaller structures.
Thermal challenges as well as other optimization issues are going to take a significant amount of time to be addressed fully when it comes to even smaller structures.
The race to see who produces the smallest chips the fastest will continue, but it is highly unlikely that we will see anything smaller than 10nm before 2018 or later.