TSMC Unveils N5 and N12FFC+ Processes for High-Performance HBM4

Last month, SK Hynix announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TSMC to collaborate closely on the production of next-generation HBM products and to enhance the integration of advanced packaging technology for HBM and logic layers. SK Hynix plans to develop the sixth generation of HBM products, known as HBM4, in partnership with TSMC. It is understood that TSMC will produce the base die for HBM4, which is part of the joint optimization efforts for the foundational die at the bottom layer of the HBM package.

According to AnandTech, TSMC revealed at the recent 2024 European Technology Symposium that it will employ N5 and N12FFC+ processes to manufacture the base die, providing unprecedented performance and energy efficiency for HBM4. TSMC stated that it is collaborating with major HBM memory partners to achieve full-stack integration of HBM4 on advanced nodes. The N12FFC+ process offers cost advantages while meeting performance requirements, and the N5 process achieves the expected speeds of HBM4 with lower power consumption.

N5 is one of the most advanced process nodes, used in the best CPUs and GPUs, and its application to memory is significant, being more advanced than the previously rumored N7 process. With the N5 process, more logic and functionality can be integrated into the HBM4 base die, achieving very fine interconnect pitches, which are crucial for direct bonding on logic chips, thereby enhancing memory performance needed for artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC). The N12FFC+ process, derived from TSMC’s highly mature 16nm FinFET technology, enables the construction of 12-layer and 16-layer stacks for HBM4, providing 48GB and 64GB capacities respectively, offering better cost performance compared to the N5 process.

Additionally, TSMC is optimizing its CoWoS-L and CoWoS-R packaging technologies to support HBM4 integration. According to the plans of SK Hynix and TSMC, HBM4 is expected to enter production in 2026.