1. News
June 2, 2021

TSMC to start trial production of 4nm semiconductor ahead of schedule

By Elles Houweling

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) said at its annual technology symposium that it aims to start trial production for its 4 nanometre (nm) chip in the third quarter of 2021, one quarter earlier than previously planned. The 3nm semiconductor is set to be mass-produced in the second half of 2022 as planned.

The world’s largest semiconductor foundry held its annual technology forum on Monday and Tuesday, in which it shared the company’s latest technological development with customers worldwide. The event was held virtually for the second year in a row.

TSMC pointed out that the progress of its 4nm chip has been quite smooth and that it is expected to start trial production in the third quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, its 3nm semiconductor is set to start mass production in the second half of 2022. TSMC said that the new chip would feature reliable fin field-effect (FinFET) transistor architecture to support the best performance, power efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Compared to the 5nm chip, the speed and logic density are expected to increase by 15% and 70%, respectively, while power consumption should be reduced by 30%.

TSMC also launched the newest member of its 5nm family, the N5A process, with the goal of meeting the increasing demand for computing power in newer and more enhanced car models, including artificial intelligence (AI) supported driving and smart cockpits. The company said that the N5A chip would bring the same technology used in today’s supercomputers to smart vehicles.

Last month, the company also stated that it had, in cooperation with the National Taiwan University (NTU) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), made a significant breakthrough in developing a 1nm chip.

CEO C C Wei also announced during the event that TSMC had started construction in Phoenix, Arizona, where it plans to spend $12bn to build a chip factory. He added that the construction plans remain on track to begin volume production of semiconductors using the company’s 5nm production technology from 2024.

Reuters previously reported that TSMC plans to build as many as six factories at the Arizona site over a 10- to 15-year span.

The New Taipei-city based chipmaker has taken centre stage amid a global chip shortage. Its shares have soared since the Covid-19 pandemic began, making it Asia’s most valuable manufacturing company with a market capitalisation of $563bn, more than twice that of Intel’s.

According to GlobalData’s semiconductor sector scorecard, TSMC is the world’s largest chip foundry, making bespoke logic chips for companies that provide their own designs. The company, founded in 1987 and headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, is one of the top ten thematic leaders in the industry.