TSMC Secures 3nm Orders From AMD, Qualcomm & Others Says Report

Image: Ann Wang/Reuters

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The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has received multiple orders for its 3-nanometer (3nm) chip manufacturing technology according to a report in the Taiwanese media. TSMC is slated to ramp up 3nm production in the current half of this year, and the technology came at the center of controversy earlier this month when it was reported that the manufacturing process would face delays due to Intel Corporation's design changes for its products. TSMC denied the report and stated that its process technologies were progressing as planned, and now, the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes is reporting that the firm has procured orders from several different companies to manufacture their products with the advanced technology.

Major Technlology Companies Flock To TSMC's 3nm Process Says Taiwanese Press

The report from DigiTimes quotes sources at an integrated circuit design firm to share details for the orders that TSMC might have received for the 3nm process. Chipmakers have to 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 are manufactured. The machines used for advanced chip manufacturing are costly to run, and too few orders often result in capacity underutilization which then costs the chip maker more money to manufacture than the profit that it can make.

This also resulted in some controversy when Korean chaebol Samsung Electronic's chipmaking division Samsung Foundry announced that it was mass producing 3nm processors earlier this year. The decision, widely seen as an effort by Samsung to gain a leg up over TSMC, was also followed by questions related to the potential orders that the company might have received for its products. One such order was confirmed from a Chinese company, but details for the others remained unclear.

A snapshot of TSMC's chipmaking process. Image: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company

DigiTimes reports that TSMC has received 3nm orders from a variety of firms, with the leading companies being the Cupertino, California consumer technology giant Apple, Inc and the Santa Clara, California chip maker Intel Corporation. Intel's cooperation with TSMC for 3nm has garnered significant media attention, with the latest on this front claiming that the company has dropped the 3nm process for some of its products.

It also reports that in addition to Intel and Apple, the Taiwanese firm MediaTek, NVIDIA, Broadcom, AMD and Qualcomm have all placed orders for the 3nm products. If true, then it will lend TSMC a strong edge over Samsung, as the company will be able to quickly ramp up 3nm production and gain a hefty market share.

DigiTimes adds that Qualcomm is believed to be engaging Samsung for the 3nm chips as well since the company prefers to diversify its suppliers and has other business considerations to keep in mind as well when dealing with Samsung. Qualcomm is the world's leading smartphone processor manufacturer, and it competes with Samsung on this front as well, with the Korean company's Exynos processors also targeting the same market as Qualcomm's products.

Samsung and TSMC's 3nm technologies are different from each other as they use different transistor designs. TSMC has chosen to stick with the traditional FinFET technology for its products, while Samsung has jumped ahead to the advanced GaaFET technology, which in theory allows for superior performance due to high electrical conductivity.

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