[News] TSMC’s N3 and N4P Processes to Power Apple, Qualcomm, and MediaTek Chips

2023-08-17 Semiconductors editor

According to a report by Taiwan’s Commercial Times, global smartphone brands are set to introduce a series of flagship-level new products. Following the introduction of Apple’s A17 chip using TSMC’s 3-nanometer process, Qualcomm’s next-generation processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 are expected to be unveiled in October. These chips will be manufactured using TSMC’s N4P process, with plans to further transition to the N3E process next year.

Industry source have indicated that TSMC’s 3-nanometer yield is gradually improving, coupled with the return of N4P orders, providing a counterbalance against the impact of sluggish end market demand.

Commercial Times’ report highlights that TSMC previously expressed strong demand for its N3 process, projecting substantial growth in the second half of the year. The N3 process will support high-performance computing (HPC) and smartphone platforms, with an anticipated contribution of 4-6% to the company’s revenue in 2023. Additionally, N3E has already been verified and received its first batch of customer product design approvals, with mass production expected to commence in the fourth quarter. TSMC aims to achieve a monthly production capacity of 100,000 wafers in its 3-nanometer process by the end of the year to cater to Apple’s demands.

According to Bloomberg’s recent exposure of Apple’s projected M3 processor product roadmap set for release this fall, the basic M3 processor consists of 4 high-performance and 4 energy-efficient cores, paired with 10 GPU cores. M3 Pro comes in two versions: a basic version equipped with 12 cores (6 high-performance and 6 energy-efficient) and 18 GPU cores, and a higher-tier version with 14 CPU cores and 20 GPU cores.

M3 Max also offers two versions, featuring a fully-equipped 16-core CPU. The main difference between the basic and higher-tier versions lies in the GPU cores—32 for the former and a whopping 40 for the latter. The most powerful variant, M3 Ultra, essentially doubles the configuration of M3 Max, boasting 32 CPU cores paired with either 64 or 80 GPU cores. Industry experts widely regard TSMC as the primary beneficiary of these developments.

(Photo credit: TSMC)