TSMC says its N3P is equivalent to Intel 18A technology

In Intel’s semiconductor process roadmap unveiled in 2021, spanning “five process nodes over four years,” the Intel 7 and Intel 4 have already transitioned into mass production. The Intel 3 is progressing as scheduled, targeting the end of 2023, while the Intel 20A and Intel 18A, set for 2024, will adopt the RibbonFET fully surrounding gate transistor and PowerVia backend power supply technologies. Intel remains confident that if projects progress on schedule, by 2025, they could potentially reclaim the leading position with Intel 18A.

According to a report from The Motley Fool, TSMC’s CEO, Dr. C.C. Wei, recently stated during a company earnings call that TSMC’s internal assessments indicate that their N3P process is on par with Intel’s 18A in terms of performance and energy efficiency. However, it is more mature, will reach the market sooner, and is significantly more cost-effective. He further emphasized TSMC’s belief that their N2 process surpasses Intel’s 18A and, when introduced in 2025, will stand as the semiconductor industry’s most advanced technology.

From Intel’s perspective, the Intel 20A and Intel 18A correspond to the 2nm and 1.8nm categories respectively, potentially launching ahead of TSMC’s equivalent processes. Further fortified with RibbonFET fully-surrounding gate transistors and PowerVia backend power supply technologies, Intel believes they hold a technical edge. However, TSMC respectfully disagrees. While their 3nm process nodes like N3, N3E, N3P, and N3X rely on mature FinFET transistors and conventional power designs, they argue that their technical application is more adept, yielding results that are not inferior.

TSMC plans to employ Gate-all-around FETs (GAAFET) transistors for their 2nm process node and will also leverage backside power delivery (BSPD) technology to enhance performance, all the while still harnessing the existing extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography techniques. TSMC is optimistic that with the introduction of this next-generation technology, its N2 process will triumph comprehensively in terms of power, performance, and area.