TSMC’s 2nm process node may be delayed

TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is poised to introduce Gate-all-around FETs (GAAFET) transistors for the first time in its 2nm process node, while the manufacturing process remains reliant on Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology. The initial roadmap aimed for risk production readiness by the end of 2024, transitioning to mass production by the close of 2025, ensuring that customers would receive the inaugural batch of chips crafted with the N2 process by 2026.

According to TechNews, TSMC has made significant investments in Northern (Hsinchu Baoshan), Central (Taichung Zhongke), and Southern Taiwan (Kaohsiung Nanzi), embarking on 2nm factory constructions. Recent updates from the supply chain indicate that the construction project in Hsinchu Baoshan has decelerated, potentially impacting the original production timeline. Insiders speculate that actual mass production could be deferred to 2026.

TSMC’s Fab20 wafer plant in Zhudong Baoshan’s second phase comprises plans for four 12-inch wafer factories (P1-P4), representing the genesis point for the next-generation N2 process. Initial plans revolved around entering a risk production phase in the latter half of 2024, transitioning to mass production in 2025. Influenced by diminishing semiconductor demand and nebulous client procurement, TSMC has modulated the pace of construction. The new factory in Kaohsiung, almost contemporaneous with the Baoshan initiative, was originally slated to lag just a month behind, though its pace now remains uncertain. The new factory in Taichung has already garnered approvals from the local authorities, with groundbreaking set for next year. Rumors suggest that, in light of shifting plans, TSMC may bypass the 2nm process node for this site, progressing directly to the 1.4nm node.

Contrasting with Samsung, which incorporated the GAA transistor architecture at the 3nm node, TSMC retained the FinFET transistor architecture for its 3nm node. Given the technical intricacies, Samsung’s 3nm GAA process confronted challenges in yield rate during its early mass production phase, a predicament TSMC is likely to encounter as well. Speculation abounds that a fusion of market dynamics and technical factors has led TSMC to recalibrate the N2 process’s developmental timeline, with a substantial likelihood of mass production being postponed to 2026.