TSMC begins paving the way for 1nm chip production
According to TSMC’s plan, N3, N3E, N3P, N3X, and other processes will be launched successively from 2022 to 2025. In the future, there will be an optimized N3S process, plus the use of FINFLEX technology, which can cover the needs of different platforms such as smartphones, the Internet of Things, automotive chips, and HPC. TSMC still uses FinFET transistors at the 3nm process node, but at the 2nm process node, the N2 process that will be mass-produced in 2025 will enable a new Gate-all-around FETs (GAAFET) transistor.
According to relevant media reports, TSMC has made a strategic decision to start paving the way for 1nm-level chip production and decided to build a new fab in Longtan Science and Technology Park near Taoyuan, Taiwan. The site, not far from the Hsinchu Science and Technology Park where TSMC is headquartered, will create thousands of high-paying local jobs.
Currently, production equipment for advanced semiconductor processes is quite expensive. It is estimated that the investment in this fab is about $32 billion. In contrast, TSMC’s existing fabs using 3nm and 5nm processes have an investment of about $20 billion, and the new fab has a considerable increase.
TSMC has only disclosed the N2 process plan for the time being, and it is not clear how the more advanced manufacturing technology will develop next. Some insiders estimate that the 1nm-level process may not be mass-produced until 2027-2028, and it is likely that ASML’s most advanced High-NA EUV lithography system will be used, which will provide a numerical aperture of 0.55. Since the design and manufacturing costs of chips with a 1nm process are very high, don’t expect many companies and chips to adopt them.