TSMC Aggressively Ramping Volume Production of 16nm FinFET Devices – Pure Play Foundries Will Experience 6.1% Growth This Year


The foundry market is something that is arguably the backbone of the PC (gaming) market. This includes TSMC and Global Foundries among the few names that our readers are probably well aware of now. In a report citing IC Insights as the source, Fudzilla.com reveals that the market will grow by 6.1 percent (in 2015) even though the overall trend of the semiconductor market is slightly down to flat. The health of the foundry market is ofcourse, something that translates to the health of the PC Market, but because this industry is also directly linked to the smartphones sector, the relationship isn’t completely proportional.

TSMC Will Most Likely Use EUV Lithography For Its 5 nm ChipsAn image of a 300mm wafer over at TSMC foundry. @TSMC Public Domain

TSMC triples supply of 20nm or below products in Q4 2015 - 16nm FinFET in mature volume production

Since we are talking about pure platy foundries here, Intel Foundry isn't included in this number. According to IC Insights, the increase in the sales forecast is due to "devices being built on the sub 45nm node". Which is ofcourse entirely unhelpful to us since the vast majority of interesting products are built on the sub 20nm node now.  TSMC is forecasted to have about US$5.7 billion in sales of 20nm devices in 2015 ($5.1 billion from 20nm and about $0.6 billion from 16nm devices). This is 2.7 times more than the US$2.1 billion worth of 20nm (or below) products the company sold in 2014.

While that is a slightly more relevant number, most, if not all of these sales will consist of low power SOCs including the chips powering the latest Apple products. The 16nm FinFET graphic processing units had to wait till the node achieved a certain level of maturity for high performance designs. TSMC originally began (volume) shipping 16nm FinFET products in the third quarter of 2015 and has been following a very aggressive ramp ever since. Funnily enough, Global Foundries will actually increase its number of above 45nm products due to the contract win of IBM chips - most of which will be large RF devices.

We had previously reported some months ago that TSMC will enter into volume production in the time-range of Q3 2015, specifically July, so this news doesn’t really come as much of a surprise. TSMC and Nvidia have also confirmed on more than one occasion that the next generation (Pascal) GPUs will be produced on the 16nm FinFET+ node, with initial confirmation dating back approximately a year. AMD’s next generation Radeon graphics processor on the other hand, codenamed Arctic Islands, was not on the official list of products released by TSMC, so while their CEO have confirmed the use of a FinFET node (14/16) the exact specifics remain to be seen.

16nm FinFET tech entered into risk production and approached mature yields a while back, and now full fledged production has begun full steam ahead.  More than 60 projects are underway, with known products in development including Avago, Freescale, LG, MediaTek, NVIDIA, AMD, Renesas and Xilinx.