[News] The Intense Battle of 2-Nanometer Technology Set to Escalate Next Year

2024-03-25 Semiconductors editor

As the demand for AI is becoming urgent, according to industry sources cited by the ChinaTimes News, TSMC’s Fab20 P1 plant in Hsinchu’s Baoshan area will undergo equipment installation engineering in April to warm up for mass production of the GAA (gate-all-around) architecture.

Reportedly, it is expected that Baoshan P1, P2, and the three fabs scheduled for advanced process production in Kaohsiung will all commence mass production in 2025, attracting customers such as Apple, NVIDIA, AMD, and Qualcomm to compete for production capacity.

Regarding this rumor, TSMC declined to comment.

Per the industry sources cited by the same report, whether wafer manufacturing is profitable is depending on the yield after mass production. The key lies in the speed at which the yield improves; the longer it takes and the higher the cost, the more challenging it becomes.

As per the same report, TSMC is said to be accelerating its entry into the 2-nanometer realm in April, aiming to shorten the time required for yield improvement in advanced processes. This move not only poses a continuous threat to Samsung and Intel but also widens TSMC’s leading edge.

Industry sources cited by the ChinaTimes’ report have revealed that TSMC has prepared for first tool-in at P1, with trial production expected in the fourth quarter this year and mass production in the second quarter of next year. Equipment manufacturers indicate that they have already deployed personnel and conducted preparatory training in response to TSMC’s customized demands.

As a new milestone in chip manufacturing processes, the 2-nanometer node will provide higher performance and lower power consumption. It adopts Nanosheet technology structure and further develops backside power rail technology. TSMC believes that the 2-nanometer node will enable it to maintain its technological leadership and seize the growth opportunities in AI.

In fact, the cost of producing 2-nanometer chips is exceptionally high. Per the report citing sources, compared to the 3-nanometer node, costs are expected to increase by 50%, with the per-wafer cost reaching USD 30,000. Therefore, the initial adopters are expected to be smartphone chip clients, notably Apple.

Previously, per a report from the media outlet wccftech, Apple’s iPhone, Mac, iPad, and other devices will be the first users of TSMC’s 2nm process. Apple will leverage TSMC’s 2nm process technology to enhance chip performance and reduce power consumption. This advancement is expected to result in longer battery life for future Apple products, such as the iPhone and MacBook.

Unlike with the 3-nanometer node, the complexity of the design means customers must start collaborating with TSMC earlier in the development process. Market speculations suggest that many clients such as MediaTek, Qualcomm, AMD, and NVIDIA have already begun cooperation. TSMC’s earnings call also emphasized that the number of customers for N2 is higher than that for N3 at the same stage of development.

The Fab 20 facility is expected to begin receiving related equipment for 2nm production as early as April, with plans to transition to GAA (Gate-All-Around) technology from FinFET for 2nm mass production by 2025.

The competition in the development of 2-nanometer technology is fierce. ASML plans to produce 10 2-nanometer EUV lithography machines this year, with Intel already reserving 6 of them. Additionally, Japan has mobilized its national efforts to establish Rapidus Semiconductor Manufacturing, which also aims to compete in the 2-nanometer process.

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Please note that this article cites information from ChinaTimes and wccftech