TSMC, Samsung 2nm process: can do but may not be affordable

According to TSMC’s plan, they will mass-produce 5nm EUV process in the first half of this year, and the production capacity will increase to 70,000-80,000 wafers/month in the second half of this year. This year’s production capacity is mainly for Apple and Huawei. TSMC’s 3nm process will also start construction this year, and Samsung announced the 3nm GAA process first.

According to Samsung, compared to the 5nm manufacturing process, the logic area efficiency of the 3nm GAA technology is improved by more than 35%, the power consumption is reduced by 50%, and the performance is improved by about 30%.

In order to ensure the advantage after 5nm, Samsung and TSMC will invest huge amounts of money. Last year, Samsung announced an investment plan of up to 133 trillion won (about 111.85 billion US dollars), with the goal of becoming the world ’s largest “system” by 2030. SoC “(SoC) manufacturers.

TSMC has begun building a 30-hectare (300,000-square-meter) new wafer fab, investing $ 19.5 billion (about 137 billion yuan), and plans to mass-produce 3nm by 2023.

The 3nm process is not the end of Moore’s Law. Samsung, TSMC, and Intel are conducting research, but it is still far away. TSMC’s most optimistic view is that it will mass-produce 2nm processes in 2024.

However, the biggest problem for 3nm and future 2nm and even 1nm processes is not technology research and development. Even if technical problems are overcome, the biggest problem with these new processes is that no one can afford them. In order to solve process problems, these companies will invest huge amounts of money in research and development. At the same time, building a 3nm or 2nm wafer fab at the same time starts from tens of billions of dollars.

Not only wafer foundries are burning money, chip design companies are also burning money. Previous reports showed that 7nm chip R & D would require $ 300 million investment, 5nm process would cost $ 542 million, and 3nm and 2nm processes have no data. But the start of $ 1 billion is not gone.

The problem is that by the time of the 3nm and 2nm nodes, there will be few companies that have demand for such high-end processes and can control their costs. The current 5nm process can only be used by local companies such as Huawei and Apple ( AMD will not be able to play until next year at the earliest), and further development, I am afraid that 3nm and 2nm nodes around the world will not be able to afford it. Compared with the advantages of performance, density and power consumption brought by advanced technology, the straight-up cost is a problem.

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