TSMC is clear about how important it is to improve the manufacturing process for its processors. It is the largest manufacturer of these components and has customers like Apple, Qualcomm or Huawei. Supplying almost the entire mobile industry with its chips also means being able to make them more and more powerful. For that now get ready to jump at 3nm, while we still use 7nm chips and expect mobile phones with the first 5nm chips.
As announced by the company these days and get WikiChip, they are preparing to start manufacturing 3nm chips. If all goes well and despite the current COVID-19 situation, they should by 2022 on the first mobiles.
But what exactly is 3 nm? Refers to the number of transistors that can be placed on a chip. The fewer nm (nanometers), the more the transistors adapt, the more the transistors adapt, the higher the power of the chip and the lower its power consumption.
Along with TSMC, the other big manufacturer of the 3nm race is Samsung, which had already announced its plans to manufacture these processors a year ago. Here are two different bets, TSMC will use FinFET transistors while Samsung will switch to multi-bridge FET technology, which, in principle and according to Samsung, makes transistors smaller and more powerful. This, as always, will be seen in practice.
What is 290 million transistors per mm2
TSMC 3nm molding should achieve approximately 290 million transistors per square millimeter. To put things in context, the current 7 nm chips (Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, Huawei Kirin 990, Apple A13 Bionic…) contain around 100 million transistors per square millimeter. The 5nm chips that will arrive in the coming months will do so with some 170 million transistors per square millimeter.
Estimates of transistor per mm2 and actual figures obtained by TSMC over the years. Via WikiChip.
The step of 7 nm to 5 nm for processors 10% to 15% performance increase and 25% to 30% reduction in power consumption. Similar percentages are expected from the 5nm to 3nm step, according to TSMC estimates. Then, of course, it will depend on the design that each manufacturer does for its chips, this is where Apple or Qualcomm for example can differentiate themselves.
If all goes according to plan, the first 3nm processors will be Available for the second quarter of 2022 and mass production by 2023. For now, we have to wait for 5nm processors, Apple should be the first manufacturer to launch a mobile with these processors, with its A14 which will arrive on the iPhone in September. .