TSMC’s enhanced 3nm process node (N3e) to start production a quarter ahead of schedule
Financial giant says TSMC’s enhanced 3nm yields have been higher than expected
Morgan Stanley says that the production yield for this node has been higher than expected and the foundry might freeze the design of the N3e node by the end of this month. Part of the report was posted on Twitter by a user with the handle RetiredEngineer who took from the financial giant’s report that volume production for the N3e process node may start during the second quarter of 2023 rather than the third quarter.
TSMC’s enhanced 3nm node will start production a quarter ahead of schedule
According to Morgan Stanley’s report, the logic density of TSMC’s N3e process node is approximately 8% less than the original N3 with four fewer EUV layers. The EUV machine uses ultraviolet beams to help create circuit patterns on wafers. Considering how many transistors fit inside a chip these days, these circuit patterns need to be extremely narrow as do the beams that create these patterns.
Moving production of the N3e mode ahead one quarter has no impact on the production of the original N3 3nm chips. TSMC is still expected to start production of N3 chips beginning in the third quarter of this year and deliver them to customers in the first quarter of 2023. Chips made using TSMC’s N3 or N3e process node, or Samsung Foundry’s 3GAE node are not expected to be on the market until the third or fourth quarter of 2023.
Samsung Foundry’s yield at 4nm node was half that of TSMC’s
Low yields could result in a shortage of certain chips from a specific foundry. Mixed in with the current chip shortage, Samsung Foundry’s low yield spells trouble for the business in what is a competitive sector of the chip industry. Qualcomm returned to TSMC to build the Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon 855+ and stuck with the foundry for 2020’s Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 865+.
If a customer as big as Qualcomm can’t trust Samsung’s yield figures for cutting-edge process nodes, the only option it has is to switch.