TSMC said this week that the first commercial chips produced using its N3 (3 nanometer) manufacturing process will be delivered to customers in the first quarter of 2023. The company also said it is developing a second-generation 3 nanometer node to increase yield, improve performance, and reduce power consumption.
The first batch of 3nm chips will be launched in the first quarter of 2023
As expected, TSMC is expected to start using its N3 node for semiconductor high-volume manufacturing (HVM) in the second half of 2022. However, the cycle time of modern nodes (even those that rely extensively on extreme ultraviolet lithography) tends to be very long (more than 100 days), so end customers will get their chips and pay TSMC sometime in the first quarter of 2023 . Previously, many market observers (including us) believed that the company would ship its first batch of 3nm chips by the end of 2022.
“N3 risk production is planned for 2021, and production will start in the second half of 2022,” Said CC Wei, CEO of TSMC, is on the company’s conference call with analysts and investors. “So, the second half of 2022 will be our mass production, but you can expect revenue to appear in the first quarter of 2023 because it takes a long time-all these wafers require cycle time.”
Last quarter, TSMC admitted that its N3 node HVM was approximately Four months later Its N7 and N5 manufacturing process cycles. In both cases, the company began to use its leading nodes for HVM around April to May 2021 in order to deliver the first batch of commercial SoCs to its alpha customer Apple in time for the launch of the new iPhone. Facts have proved that either the N3 cycle further declines, or TSMC’s estimates are very conservative, but it seems that this new technology entered HVM in the second half of the third quarter rather than in the early third quarter as some people believe.
N3E extend N3
Another interesting thing revealed by TSMC is that its second-generation N3 technology will continue to use FinFET transistors, but there will be many improvements.Specifically, TSMC is talking about an improved Progress window, This essentially means a wider selection of manufacturing parameters to achieve considerable yields and performance enhancements and lower power consumption.
“We also launched N3E as an extension of our N3 series,” Wei said. “N3E will have an improved manufacturing process window with better performance, power and output. The mass production of N3E is planned to be realized within 1 year after N3.”
TSMC rarely talks about node production expansion in about a year. Therefore, if the N3 yield problem is solved now, it means that N3E has methods to improve yield beyond traditional methods, such as continuous process improvement (CPI) that improves yield and reduces performance changes through statistical process control (SPC).
The launch of N3E from the end of 2023 to the beginning of 2024 means that the company’s GAAFET-based N2 technology will not arrive until 2025. This is not a big problem, because we still have four years to learn about N3 and N3E. All functions, as well as other possible variants of the technology, these variants are expected to become another long node for TSMC.