Thursday, Mar 04, 2021, 22:23 Hardware

The Road To A17 Chips: TSMC's Production Plans

In recent years, Apple has relied on TSMC to dependably manufacture chips with regular reductions to structure width. In turn, this has allowed Apple to develop A-chips with impressive performance leaps and little wasted heat. The Mac has also profited in the form of the new M1, an especially efficient chip. Now, it looks as if some important stages at TSMC have gone according to plan. Specifically, the 3nm manufacturing process is expected to start this year, although it may still be some time until such products are ready for the market.

2021: 3nm Manufacturing Begins On A Small Scale
In the second half of this year, TSMC intends to produce the wafers and after a successful testing phase in 2022, TSMC should significantly expand production capacity. Should 55,000 chips be successfully produced, then production will increase to over 100,000 wafers in 2023. This means that Apple will be able to rely on the 3nm process starting with the A17. Meanwhile, the switch to 4nm manufacturing process should begin as early as 2022, with the observation of the "5nm+" intermediate step occurring this year. In comparison with the 5nm chips, 3nm chips are expected to offer up to 30% more performance power at the same energy cost.







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Massive Expansion Of Production Capacity
To give the numbers a reference: In 2020's fourth quarter, TSMC produced ~90,000 chips every month, in the first half of this year that number should increase to 105,000 units – and by the end of the year, 120,000 every month. Next to Apple stand several other large electronic manufacturers interested in TSMC's manufacturing art, including AMD, MediaTek, Xilinx, Marvell, Broadcom, and Qualcomm. Allegedly, even Intel's started to show interest in the company and is considering outsourcing certain parts of production to TSMC, specifically 4nm chips in 2022 and 2023. The high demand poses a challenge to TSMC, which already has to increase 5nm production by more than 160,000 units per month by 2024.

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