Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has received multiple orders for its 3-nanometer (3nm) chip manufacturing technology, according to a report in Taiwanese media. TSMC is scheduled to ramp up 3nm production in the current half of this year, and the technology was at the center of controversy earlier this month when it was reported that the manufacturing process would face delays due to design changes by Intel. Corporation for its products. TSMC denied the report and claimed that its process technologies were progressing as planned, and now Taiwanese publication DigiTimes is reporting that the company has won orders from several different companies to manufacture its products with the advanced technology.
Major Tech Firms Flock To TSMC’s 3nm Process, Says Taiwanese Press
The DigiTimes report cites sources at an IC design firm to share details of orders TSMC may have received for the 3nm process. Chipmakers must rely on a strong backlog for their new processes, as high investment and setup costs can only be recouped once a large number of semiconductor wafers are manufactured. The machines used for advanced chip manufacturing are expensive to operate, and too few orders often result in underutilized capacity, which then costs the chipmaker more money to manufacture than the profit it can make.
This also caused some controversy when Korean chaebol Samsung Electronic’s chip manufacturing division, Samsung Foundry, announced it would mass-produce 3nm processors earlier this year. The decision, widely seen as an effort by Samsung to gain an advantage over TSMC, was also followed by questions related to potential orders the company may have received for its products. One of those orders was confirmed by a Chinese company, but details of the others remain unclear.
DigiTimes reports that TSMC has received orders for 3nm from a variety of companies, with the main companies being Apple, Inc., the Cupertino, California-based consumer technology giant, and Intel Corporation, the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker. Intel’s cooperation with TSMC for 3nm has attracted a lot of media attention, with the latest on this front claiming that the company has abandoned the 3nm process for some of its products.
It also reports that in addition to Intel and Apple, Taiwanese firm MediaTek, NVIDIA, Broadcom, AMD and Qualcomm have placed orders for 3nm products. If true, it will give TSMC a strong advantage over Samsung, as the company will be able to rapidly ramp up 3nm production and gain a large market share.
DigiTimes adds that Qualcomm is also believed to be committing Samsung to 3nm chips as the company prefers to diversify its suppliers and also has other business considerations to take into account when dealing with Samsung. Qualcomm is the world’s leading smartphone processor maker and also competes with Samsung on this front, with the Korean company’s Exynos processors also targeting the same market as Qualcomm’s products.
The 3nm technologies from Samsung and TSMC are different from each other as they use different transistor designs. TSMC has chosen to stick with traditional FinFET technology for its products, while Samsung has gone ahead with advanced GaaFET technology, which theoretically allows superior performance due to high electrical conductivity.