[News] PC Industry Shifts with Intel’s Propel on AI PC, Benefiting Upstream Companies like TSMC

In mid-December, Intel is set to unveil its latest Core Ultra processor, Meteor Lake. Global PC brands like Lenovo, Microsoft, DELL, HP, Acer, Asus, MSI, and Samsung are rolling out new products to capture the market. The end-users is enthusiastic, and channel feedback suggests increasing orders, marking a turning point in the PC industry,  according to CTEE.

As per the designs by PC brands, AI PCs are poised to offer AI and machine learning, capable of executing intelligent applications and tasks at the edge. This translates to a boost in user productivity and entertainment experiences, enhanced communication efficiency, and improved work quality. Furthermore, these PCs prioritize data and privacy protection.

Taiwanese partners have corresponding models entering the market, with analysts anticipating AI PCs to become the primary driver for replacement demand in the latter half of the next year. Shipment volumes are estimated to surpass 100 million units in the next two years, benefiting Taiwan’s supply chain, including PC brands Acer, Asus, MSI, and ODMs Quanta, Compal, and Inventec.

On the other hand, TSMC stands up as a major upstream player, with rising utilization rate of the 5nm and 6nm advanced processes contributed to the big orders from the Meteor Lake. TSMC is in charge of the NPU, specifically designed for AI tasks.

Intel highlights 3D Foveros as the key to advanced packaging in mixing and matching compute tiles. This aspect is managed by its advanced packaging fab in Malaysia, ensuring the most efficient energy distribution.

Please note that this article cites information from CTEE

(Image: Intel)


[News] Samsung’s Discount Strategy Challenges TSMC as the Battle for 2nm Orders Heats Up

Both TSMC and Samsung plan to start production on the 2nm process in 2025, triggering an early battle for related orders. According to sources reported by the Financial Times (FT), Qualcomm intends to shift production of its next-generation high-end mobile chips from TSMC to Samsung’s 2nm process. Samsung, offering substantial discounts, is aggressively pursuing orders from major players like NVIDIA, posing a challenge to TSMC’s dominance.

According to reports citing insider information, TSMC has showcased its 2nm prototype test results to major clients like Apple and NVIDIA. Additionally, sources indicate that Samsung is not only planning to introduce its 2nm prototype but is also offering discounted prices, attracting interest from prominent clients, including NVIDIA.

The report highlights that Qualcomm is planning to use Samsung’s “SF2” (2nm) process for the next generation of high-end smartphone chips. Samsung, as the first company to globally mass-produce 3nm (SF3) chips last year, is also the pioneer in adopting the new Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistor architecture.

Samsung indicated that, “We have fully deployed and can mass-produce SF2 in 2025. Since we are the first company to enter and transform the GAA architecture, we hope that the progress from SF3 to SF2 will be relatively smooth.”

However, insiders have disclosed that Samsung’s yield for the most basic 3nm chips is only 60%, significantly below customer expectations. Moreover, when producing chips with complexity equivalent to Apple’s A17 Pro or NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs), the yield may further decrease.

Global giants such as Qualcomm and NVIDIA follow a diversified wafer foundry strategy, but they still rely heavily on TSMC for now. Previously, NVIDIA’s Chief Financial Officer, Colette Kress, hinted during the UBS Global Technology Conference that NVIDIA may consider Intel for the production of its next-generation chips, potentially breaking away from the exclusive partnership with TSMC for AI chips.

Now, Qualcomm is also exploring collaboration with Samsung for the 2nm process, intensifying the pressure on TSMC to address potential order losses from two major clients in advanced semiconductor manufacturing.

TSMC, on the other hand, informed the Financial Times that the development progress of its 2nm process is proceeding smoothly, and it is scheduled for production in 2025. When launched, it will represent the industry’s most advanced semiconductor technology in terms of density and energy efficiency.

In a previous investor conference, TSMC stated that there is significant customer interest and engagement in 2nm for high-speed computing and smartphone applications. It is expected that 2nm, when introduced in 2025, will be the most advanced semiconductor technology in the industry, comparable or even superior to 3nm at the same stage.

TSMC plans to launch the 2nm backside power rail solution in the second half of 2025, with mass production scheduled for 2026.

Besides TSMC and Samsung actively advancing towards 2nm and more advanced processes, Intel has also joined the competition. The Financial Times characterizes this race for the 2nm process as “shaping the future of a USD 500 billion industry.”

Intel is progressing along its previously set 5 process nodes in a four-year trajectory. The Intel 4 process is ready for mass production, and the Intel 3 process is planned for launch later this year. Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger, has previously showcased the Intel 20A wafer, which is expected to enter the pre-production phase in the first half of next year. The Intel 18A process is scheduled for mass production in the second half of 2024.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)

Please note that this article cites information from Financial Times.


[News] Intel’s Possibility? Nvidia Hints at Considering a Third Foundry Partner

Nvidia CFO, Colette Kress, recently hinted again that the next-gen chips might be outsourced to Intel Corp. During the call with semiconductor analyst Tim Arcuri at the UBS Global Technology Conference on November 28th, she was asked whether Intel would be considered as a foundry partner for the next-gen chips.

In response, she stated that there are many powerful foundries in the market. TSMC and Samsung Electronics have been great partners. She said, “we’d love to have a third one,” when answering whether Nvidia want a third partner.

Kress also mentioned that, TSMC’s and others’ US fab may also be their options, and “there is nothing necessarily different but again in terms of different region. Nothing will stop us from potentially adding another foundry.”

Kress highlighted that Nvidia’s current data center GPUs designed for AI and high-performance computing (HPC) are predominantly outsourced to TSMC. However, in the previous generation, Nvidia’s gaming GPUs were mainly entrusted to Samsung for fabrication. According to Sedaily, Samsung’s foundry was responsible for manufacturing Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 series gaming GPUs based on the Ampere architecture.

Speaking of foundry partners for AI products, Nvidia anticipates that TSMC will remain a crucial foundry partner for producing AI Hopper H200 and Blackwell B100 GPUs. Any additional orders might be entrusted to Samsung.

Nvidia CEO previously said Intel’s next-gen process test chips “look good”

Additionally, reports from Barron also mentioned that on May 30th, during an interaction with journalists in Taiwan, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang was asked whether Nvidia is considering diversifying its supplier base given the rising tensions between the U.S. and China. In response, Huang referred to Nvidia’s long-standing collaboration with TSMC and Samsung Electronics, stating, “We have a lot of customers depending on us. And so our supply chain resilience is very important to us. We manufacture in as many places as we can.”

At that time, Huang also expressed, “We’re open to manufacturing with Intel. And (Intel CEO) Pat (Gelsinger) has said in the past that we’re evaluating their process, and we’ve recently received the test chip results of their next generation process and the results look good.”

From Nvidia CFO’s talk in November and Nvidia CEO’s response in May, it is obvious that, beyond TSMC and Samsung, Nvidia is thinking about a potential third foundry partner.

Please note that this article cites information from Sedaily and Barron

(Image: NVIDIA Hopper Architecture – H100 SXM)


[News] European Silicon Isle Boosts Intel, Closing in on TSMC

According to ChinaTimes’ report, Intel’s strides in European chip manufacturing are narrowing the gap with TSMC.

The Fab 34 in Ireland has taken a significant step in production using EUV for the first time, with Intel 4 technology equivalent to the original 7nm. The research firm IC Knowledge has once assessed that Intel 4 is ahead of TSMC’s 5nm process, emphasizing energy efficiency, which makes it more suitable for mobile devices.

Industry sources note that the upcoming Meteor Lake CPU will adopt the Intel 4 process, and Intel 3 is planned for release by the end of the year. With Intel’s Ireland facility entering mass production, it significantly reduces the gap with TSMC.

Meteor Lake is poised to become the first processor utilizing Intel 4 fabrication technology, marking a milestone as the inaugural process to support EUV lithography exposure.

While the Compute tile is manufactured using Intel 4, the Graphic tile, SoC tile, and IO tile are completed using TSMC’s 5/6nm process. Industry source suggests that TSMC still maintains superior yield rates and more advantageous production costs.

Intel is establishing an advanced semiconductor manufacturing value chain in Europe. Fab 34 in Leixlip, Ireland, is operational, and there are plans to build a fab in Magdeburg, Germany, and an assembly testing facility in Wroclaw, Poland. This positions Intel ahead of TSMC in global layout.

Intel aims to regain a leading position in process technology by 2025, and will receive the industry’s first set of High-NA EUV lithography exposure equipment by the end of the year. The “Intel 3” will kick off vigorously. As Moore’s Law reaches its limits, TSMC, as a frontrunner, will face a gradually narrowing gap with competitors.

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(Photo credit: Intel)

Please note that this article cites information from China Times.


[News] Loongson Unveils 3A6000 CPU, Aims to Match Intel’s Advanced Process in Next Phase

Loongson Technology Corp Ltd, unveiled its latest domestic CPU, Loongson 3A6000, on November 28th in Beijing, China. Notably, this CPU is entirely based on Chinese in-house design, free from reliance on any foreign licensed technology. During the product launch, Weiwu Hu, the chairman of Loongson, announced that next phase will utilize mature processes to achieve performance comparable to Intel’s advanced process, reported by CTEE.

Loongson 3A6000 adopts a China domestic instruction set architecture(ISA), showcasing China’s capability to self-develop a new generation CPU, as reported by CCTV News. This CPU can run various cross-platform applications, catering to the needs of diverse large and complex desktop scenarios.

The release of the Loongson 3A6000 signifies a pivotal milestone, highlighting China’s achievement in self sufficiency and product performance, bringing it on par with international mainstream products.

According to, test results indicate that the overall performance of the Loongson 3A6000 processor is comparable to Intel’s 10th Gen Core quad-core processor launched in 2020. Notably, the Loongson 3A6000 is built on the self-developed ISA “LoongArch,” showcasing complete independence from foreign licensing, from top-level structure to ISA and application binary interface (ABI) standards.

In terms of core performance, the Loongson 3A6000 boasts a main frequency of 2.5GHz, supports 128-bit vector extension (Loongson SIMD eXtension, LSX), and 256-bit advanced vector extension (Loongson Advanced SIMD eXtension, LASX). It also supports simultaneous multi-threading technology (SMT2), featuring a total of 8 logical cores on the entire chip.

Hu highlighted that the 3A6000 has charted a path based on mature processes, optimizing performance through design. This achievement marks comparable performance with Intel and AMD under relatively weaker process conditions. The next step involves continuing to use mature processes to achieve performance levels on par with Intel’s advanced technology.

Regarding the upcoming Loongson 3B6000, Hu mentioned during the third-quarter earnings briefing that Loongson is strategically focused on enhancing efficiency, aiming to reach or approach the performance level of Apple’s CPU for each GHz.
(Image: Jiwei)

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