TSMC to Begin Risk Production of 3nm Chips This Year

Apple’s chipmaking partner, TSMC is “on track” to begin risk production of its 3-nanometer fabrication process in 2021. The company is expected to step up to volume production by the second half of 2022, says a report from DigiTimes.

“Our N3 technology development is on track with good progress,” said TSMC CEO CC Wei at the company’s earnings conference call on January 14. “We are seeing a much higher level of customer engagement for both HPC and smartphone application at N3 as compared with N5 and N7 at a similar stage.”

TSMC has gradually been shrinking its process over the years, as it produced a 16nm A10 chip for Apple’s iPhone 7, and has shrunk the die down to a 5nm A14 chip used in the current iPhone 12 handsets.

Apple is set to use a 5nm+ A15 chip for the 2021 iPhone lineup, and it looks likely that the 2022 iPhone lineup will be powered by chips manufactured using TSMC’s upcoming 4nm process. The 3nm process could be used for an A17 chip as well as any future Apple Silicon that will power future Apple Silicon Mac models.

The 3nm process yields 30% and 15% power consumption and performance improvements over the 5nm process.