[News] 1nm Chip Development Rise Competition Among Wafer Foundries for Advanced Processing

2023-11-20 Semiconductors editor

The growing importance of advanced processes in wafer foundries is evident, propelled by innovations like AI and high-performance computing. While 3nm chips have entered the consumer market, efforts are underway in wafer foundries to advance to 2nm chips. Recent reports suggest progress in 1nm chips, further fueling the competition among wafer foundries.

2nm Chips: Unveiling in 2025

Anticipated by 2025, the race for 2nm chips is in full swing, with major players like TSMC, Samsung, and Rapidus actively pursuing mass production. TSMC plans to implement GAAFET transistors in its 2nm process by 2025, offering a 15% speed boost and up to a 30% reduction in power consumption compared to N3E, all while increasing chip density by over 15%.

Samsung is on a similar trajectory, planning to unveil its 2nm process by the end of 2025. As report by media in October, Samsung Foundry, said on Semiconductor Expo 2023 in South Korea, has already initiated discussions with major clients, expecting decisions in upcoming future.

Rapidus aims for trial production of 2nm chips in 2025, scaling up to mass production by 2027. Reports in September indicated that ASML plans to establish a technical support hub in Hokkaido, Japan in 2024. Approximately 50 engineers will be dispatched to Rapidus’ ongoing construction site for the 2nm plant, assisting in the setup of EUV lithography equipment on the trial production line, and providing support for factory activation, maintenance, and inspections.

When will 1nm chip arrive?

Apart from 2nm, the industry’s attention turns to 1nm-level chips. According to industry plans, mass production of 1nm-level chips is expected between 2027 and 2030.

Nikkei recently reveals collaboration between Japanese chipmaker Rapidus, Tokyo University, and the French technological research organization Leti to develop foundational technology for 1nm IC design. Talent exchange and technical sharing are slated to begin in 2024, aiming to establish a supply system for indispensable 1nm chip products, crucial for enhancing auto driving and AI performance.

On the other hand, collaborations with IBM for 1nm products are also being considered. The computing performance of 1nm products, anticipated to become mainstream in the 2030s, is expected to surpass 2nm by 10-20%.

TSMC and Samsung are also eyeing 1nm chip development. TSMC’s initial plan to build a 1.4nm process wafer fab in Taiwan faced delays after abandoning the original site selection in October. Samsung aims to launch its 1.4nm process by the end of 2027, with improved performance and power consumption through an increased number of nanosheets per transistor, promising enhanced control over current flow and reduced power leakage.

(Image: TSMC)