TSMC is hosting its annual Technology Symposium and has detailed its roadmap for the next two years. Currently, the company is already manufacturing chipsets on the 5nm process technology (codenamed N5), and expectations are Apple to be its main client and consumer with the iPhone 12 series.
Speaking about the 3nm process technology (also referred as N3), the Taiwanese manufacturer revealed it will take a different path in architecture than its competitor Samsung and will begin mass production in H2 2022.
There are several steps between the N5 and N3, the first one being N5P. It will be using the same foundry but will bring 5% speed gain and 10% power reduction, and manufacturing plans are sometime in 2021. Then there’s N4, which is a further evolution on the EUV layers and will be developed until the fourth quarter of 2021 so it can be ready for production and distribution in early 2022.
The 3nm chipsets are going to be built with FinFET transistors, unlike Samsung and its GAA structure. TSMC is planning for its N3 solution to use “innovative features” to bring a promising 10-15% increase in performance with up to 30% lower power consumption. The logic area will be scaled 1.7 times, meaning the 3nm chip should be 0.58 times the size of a 5nm one.
However, the shrinkage does not translate directly to all structures since not all components can follow the same mathematical path while keeping the performance at its best. Due to SRAM limitations, in reality, the die will be about 26% smaller.
Speaking in consumer terms, 3nm chips are expected to power smartphones right in time for the 2022 holiday season.