The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has received multiple orders for its 3 nanometer (3nm) chip manufacturing technology, according to a report in Taiwanese media. TSMC is slated to ramp up 3nm production in the current half of this year, and the technology came to the center of controversy earlier this month when it was reported that the manufacturing process would experience delays due to Intel Corporation’s design changes for its products. TSMC denied the report, stating that the process technologies are progressing as planned, and now Taiwanese publication DigiTimes reports that the company has received orders from several companies to manufacture their products with the advanced technology.
Major tech companies flock to TSMC’s 3nm process, says Taiwanese press
The DigiTimes report cites sources at an integrated circuit design firm to share details about the orders TSMC may have received for the 3nm process. Chipmakers rely on a strong order list for their new processes, as the high investment and setup costs can only be recovered once a large number of semiconductor wafers have been manufactured. The machines used for advanced chip manufacturing are expensive to run, and under-ordering often leads to underutilization of capacity, which in turn costs the chipmaker more money to produce than the profit it can make.
This also sparked some controversy when Samsung Foundry, the chip manufacturing division of Korean chaebol Samsung Electronic, announced earlier this year that it was going into mass production with 3nm processors. The decision, widely seen as an attempt by Samsung to gain an edge over TSMC, was also followed by questions about the possible orders the company may have received for its products. One such order was confirmed by a Chinese company, but details for the others remained unclear.
DigiTimes reports that TSMC has received 3nm orders from several companies, the lead companies being the Cupertino, California consumer technology giant Apple, Inc and the Santa Clara, California chipmaker Intel Corporation. Intel’s partnership with TSMC for 3nm has received a lot of media attention, with the latter claiming on this front that the company has dropped the 3nm process for some of its products.
It also reports that in addition to Intel and Apple, Taiwanese company MediaTek, NVIDIA, Broadcom, AMD and Qualcomm have all placed orders for the 3nm products. If true, it will give TSMC a strong edge over Samsung as the company will be able to ramp up 3nm production quickly and capture a sizable market share.
DigiTimes adds that Qualcomm is expected to engage Samsung for the 3nm chips as well, as the company prefers to diversify its suppliers and also has other business considerations in mind when dealing with Samsung. Qualcomm is the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphone processors and also competes with Samsung in this area, with the Korean company’s Exynos processors also targeting the same market as Qualcomm’s products.
Samsung and TSMC’s 3nm technologies differ from each other because they use different transistor designs. TSMC has chosen to stick to the traditional FinFET technology for its products, while Samsung has made a leap forward to the advanced GaaFET technology, which in theory enables superior performance due to its high electrical conductivity.