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TSMC's process level has improved again, and the production capacity to supply Apple is only 74 million.

Published :9/28/2020 2:09:57 AM

Click Count:2103

1. TSMC provides 74 million A14 processors for Apple


On September 27th, according to foreign media reports, the chip foundry TSMC’s 5nm process has been put into production in the first quarter of this year. The latest processor for Apple and other customers, Apple’s A14 processor, is the 5nm process used by TSMC. made.

In previous reports, foreign media mentioned that Apple asked TSMC to manufacture 80 million A14 processors for them this year for the upcoming iPhone 12 series. But in the latest report, foreign media said that TSMC may not be able to complete the number requested by Apple. They can only produce 74 million units this year, and the unfinished parts will be postponed to next year.


Considering that TSMC’s foundry A14 processor needs to be tested by other manufacturers before it can be used in Apple’s hardware products, and many links in the middle also need to be transported, which means that if TSMC, as reported by foreign media, it will be used at most this year Only 74 million A14 processors can be foundry, so the number of iPhone 12 that Apple can supply this year will be less than 74 million.


In addition, at the press conference starting at 1:00 am on September 16, Apple’s newly launched iPad Air is also equipped with the A14 processor, which will also lead to a reduction in the number of processors available for the iPhone 12 series. According to the news released by Apple, the A14 processor uses a 5nm process technology, integrates 11.8 billion transistors, uses a 6-core central processing unit and a 4-core graphics processor, and has improved performance and energy efficiency compared with the previous generation. It has an Apple design A new generation of 16-core neural network engine that can process 11 trillion operations per second.


2. Most of TSMC's 3nm first wave of production capacity will be left to Apple


After the large-scale production of the 5nm process, the next-generation major chip manufacturing process that TSMC will put into production will be 3nm. It is currently proceeding as planned. It is planned to start risky trial production in 2021 and mass production in the second half of 2022.

Although there are still nearly two years away from the mass production of TSMC's 3nm process, many manufacturers are paying attention to this advanced process technology of TSMC. Foreign media reports show that TSMC’s 3nm process has prepared four waves of production capacity, most of which will be left to their major customer Apple.


Most of the first wave of TSMC's 3nm process capacity is left to Apple, which is actually expected. Apple is a major customer of TSMC. Starting with the A10 processor in the iPhone 7 series in 2016, Apple’s A-series processors have been exclusively manufactured by TSMC. TSMC has today’s scale. In addition to their leading technology, Thanks to Apple's large number of orders.

The 3nm process is a complete process node leap after 5nm, which will significantly improve the performance of the chip. In the first quarter and second quarter of this year’s financial report analyst meetings, TSMC CEO Wei Zhejia talked about the 3nm process. He revealed that compared with the 5nm process, the 3nm process will increase the density of transistors by 70% and the speed of the chip by 10%. 15%, energy efficiency increased by 25% to 30%.


3. TSMC's 2nm process has made breakthroughs


There is a bottleneck in the improvement of chip manufacturing process. When the chip size is less than 5nm, quantum tunneling will occur. Electrons will pass through the gate and source channels of the transistor by themselves, causing logic errors of 0 and 1. Therefore, many people in the industry have said that the 3nm process is likely to be the limit of the silicon-based semiconductor process. In 2017, Zhang Zhongmou also said that TSMC’s 2nm process technology would have to wait a few more years before reaching a conclusion.


However, the actual situation is much more optimistic. Recently, there have been reports that TSMC's 2nm process has made a major breakthrough. TSMC established a 2nm R&D team last year. In response to the physical limit of FinFET's current control leakage due to process shrinkage, the team integrated cost, equipment compatibility, technology maturity and performance performance and other conditions to change the past 3nm and 5nm fins. The type field effect transistor (FinFET) is replaced by a multi-bridge channel field effect transistor MBCFET structure based on the surround gate process.


At the same time, the improvement of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) micro-development technology has made TSMC's key nano sheet stacking technology developed for many years more mature, and the progress of yield improvement has been smoother than expected. TSMC previously revealed that 2nm R&D and production will be in Baoshan, Hsinchu, planning four ultra-large wafer fabs from P1 to P4, covering an area of more than 90 hectares.


Based on the current research and development progress of TSMC's 2nm, the supply chain is expected to enter risky trial production in the second half of 2023, and formal mass production in 2024.