TSMC Delays The Production Of 3nm By 6 Months Amidst Equipment Shortages In The Wake Of The Pandemic – 5nm Is Still On Schedule With Production At Full Capacity

Apr 15, 2020
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According to multiple sources in Taiwan, TSMC has increased its production of 5nm chips to full capacity, and COVID-19 seems to not be affecting it. The difference is that COVID-19 is having an impact on 3nm development and TSMC has moved back its release date by six months and could be delayed longer than that due to an inability to upgrade the fabs due to a shortage of equipment. Samsung seems to be struggling as well with the same issues that TSMC has with the shortage of equipment causing delays.

TSMC's 5nm Is Still On Schedule, But 3nm Is Delayed With The Inability To Find Equipment In The Pandemic

The delay for 3nm is said to be 6 months but could be delayed more because of our current situation in the world. According to media reports, the 6 months puts back the tooling of the factory and the trial period, which leaves it to start in December.

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No production chips are expected before 2022. The trial will occur in TSMC's Fab 18 which also houses the 5nm production as well. The first two construction phases were dedicated to the 5nm process while the next two phases will be dedicated to 3nm production. TSMC's 5nm chips are on their way as TSMC already had the fab tooled to produce 5nm, so it ultimately was not affected by this pandemic.

TSMC 5nm and 3nm Production

Since EUV scanners are not yet as powerful as classic systems, the output on the 5nm chips is significantly lower. With the new chips, over ten layers will be exposed to the EUV for the first time. It is the first process to be completely designed around EUV. N7 and N7P were using the classic line of immersion lithography with the N7+ being a slight variation of the process. The EUV is reducing the production time needed, and we are finally starting to see the benefits of this process.

Ultimately, the only process delayed was the 3nm process which was already a few years out. The 5nm is fully operational and we can expect to see some of those chips on the market soon. The development of EUV is also looking quite hopeful with 3nm.

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