TSMC has begun testing 3nm chips, volume production in Q4 2022

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
A new report says that iPhone processor manufacturer TSMC has begun pilot production of 3-nanometer chips, and expects to be producing them in volume at the end of 2022.




Having already been finalizing a 3-nanometer processor manufacturing process, TSMC is now said to have moved beyond its initial "risk production."

According to Digitimes, unspecified industry sources have backed up previous reports that the company is on track for 3nm production.

"TSMC has kicked off pilot production of chips built using N3 (namely 3nm process technology) at its Fab 18 in southern Taiwan," reports Digitimes, "and will move the process to volume production by the fourth quarter of 2022."

Currently, Apple uses TSMC's 5nm processors for the M1 chips. It's expected that TSMC's 3nm processors will power the next generation of Apple Silicon.

Digitimes has a poor track record as it pertains to Apple's future plans. It has but a much better one regarding information about Apple's suppliers. If this report is correct, it's probable that Apple will begin releasing products using 3nm processors in early 2023.

Apple uses TSMC for the A-series processor in the iPhone and iPad, as well as the M-series that it uses in the iPad Pro and Mac.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,144member
    I wonder about the actual timing on this. Apple normally gets first production of new nodes and sub node advances, since they help finance it and are the largest customer. But this timing says that others will get 3nm first.
  • Reply 2 of 10
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,504member
    melgross said:
    I wonder about the actual timing on this. Apple normally gets first production of new nodes and sub node advances, since they help finance it and are the largest customer. But this timing says that others will get 3nm first.

    I don't see how that's the case? Volume production doesn't mean "peak" production. Given the amount of SoCs Apple requires, they could spend 6-9 months just trying to build up supply, if they plan on using it for the A17, M3, and M3X.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    KTRKTR Posts: 203member
    It seems to me that they want to be safe and make sure that chips are damn near flawless.  But it seems rather late.  
  • Reply 4 of 10
    thttht Posts: 4,206member
    About a month ago, wasn't there speculation that TSMC 3nm was going to be late for the A16, and Apple would have stick with 5nm or 4nm?

    If they are starting pilot production now, I think that is good news for mass production of TSMC 3nm A16 chips starting in June or July for a late Sep iPhone release.

    For the M3 on TSMC 3 nm, it's a no brainer piece of speculation. The M2 hasn't shipped yet! And the rumors are for a MBA w/M2 shipping in Summer. That means the M3 won't be coming out until Fall of 2023. 2 years from now. If the M2 actually shipped now, there's a chance Apple might try for a yearly update for the MBA so this news might mean an M3 for Fall of 22 being at risk, but it's not, and it's looking like an 18mo cycle. So, no worries.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,144member
    mjtomlin said:
    melgross said:
    I wonder about the actual timing on this. Apple normally gets first production of new nodes and sub node advances, since they help finance it and are the largest customer. But this timing says that others will get 3nm first.

    I don't see how that's the case? Volume production doesn't mean "peak" production. Given the amount of SoCs Apple requires, they could spend 6-9 months just trying to build up supply, if they plan on using it for the A17, M3, and M3X.
    Don’t see what is the case? You just said something similar to what I said.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,144member
    tht said:
    About a month ago, wasn't there speculation that TSMC 3nm was going to be late for the A16, and Apple would have stick with 5nm or 4nm?

    If they are starting pilot production now, I think that is good news for mass production of TSMC 3nm A16 chips starting in June or July for a late Sep iPhone release.

    For the M3 on TSMC 3 nm, it's a no brainer piece of speculation. The M2 hasn't shipped yet! And the rumors are for a MBA w/M2 shipping in Summer. That means the M3 won't be coming out until Fall of 2023. 2 years from now. If the M2 actually shipped now, there's a chance Apple might try for a yearly update for the MBA so this news might mean an M3 for Fall of 22 being at risk, but it's not, and it's looking like an 18mo cycle. So, no worries.
    Assuming that volume production means significant production volume, and late next year means somewhere around the forth quarter if the year, there is no way Apple could get these chips for a September, or October release.
    viclauyyc
  • Reply 7 of 10
    According to Forbes, Apple purchased the entire production run of 4nm silicon and the entire initial production run of 3nm silicon from TSMC.
    Bty, TSMC is already testing 2nm “chips” using carbon nanotubes and a new type of “printing”.
    viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    thttht Posts: 4,206member
    melgross said:
    tht said:
    About a month ago, wasn't there speculation that TSMC 3nm was going to be late for the A16, and Apple would have stick with 5nm or 4nm?

    If they are starting pilot production now, I think that is good news for mass production of TSMC 3nm A16 chips starting in June or July for a late Sep iPhone release.

    For the M3 on TSMC 3 nm, it's a no brainer piece of speculation. The M2 hasn't shipped yet! And the rumors are for a MBA w/M2 shipping in Summer. That means the M3 won't be coming out until Fall of 2023. 2 years from now. If the M2 actually shipped now, there's a chance Apple might try for a yearly update for the MBA so this news might mean an M3 for Fall of 22 being at risk, but it's not, and it's looking like an 18mo cycle. So, no worries.
    Assuming that volume production means significant production volume, and late next year means somewhere around the forth quarter if the year, there is no way Apple could get these chips for a September, or October release.
    I'm mystified to why pilot production would last a year. So, either they are starting pilot production later than this article is stating, or it's wrong. The timing of pilot production is the only real piece of info here. I understand pilot production to mean that the final manufacturing process is done, and they are running it at a small scale to get the remaining bugs outs. You could use chips from pilot production and they aren't different from final volume production. After that, it's the same process, just scaled to more lines for volume production.

    Then, I'm not sure how the term of art, "volume production", applies to Apple, given their status. TSMC needs to start A16 production in late June for Apple to hit a late Sep iPhone shipment date. 6 months for pilot production sounds about right? So good news? Wait and see.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,144member
    tht said:
    melgross said:
    tht said:
    About a month ago, wasn't there speculation that TSMC 3nm was going to be late for the A16, and Apple would have stick with 5nm or 4nm?

    If they are starting pilot production now, I think that is good news for mass production of TSMC 3nm A16 chips starting in June or July for a late Sep iPhone release.

    For the M3 on TSMC 3 nm, it's a no brainer piece of speculation. The M2 hasn't shipped yet! And the rumors are for a MBA w/M2 shipping in Summer. That means the M3 won't be coming out until Fall of 2023. 2 years from now. If the M2 actually shipped now, there's a chance Apple might try for a yearly update for the MBA so this news might mean an M3 for Fall of 22 being at risk, but it's not, and it's looking like an 18mo cycle. So, no worries.
    Assuming that volume production means significant production volume, and late next year means somewhere around the forth quarter if the year, there is no way Apple could get these chips for a September, or October release.
    I'm mystified to why pilot production would last a year. So, either they are starting pilot production later than this article is stating, or it's wrong. The timing of pilot production is the only real piece of info here. I understand pilot production to mean that the final manufacturing process is done, and they are running it at a small scale to get the remaining bugs outs. You could use chips from pilot production and they aren't different from final volume production. After that, it's the same process, just scaled to more lines for volume production.

    Then, I'm not sure how the term of art, "volume production", applies to Apple, given their status. TSMC needs to start A16 production in late June for Apple to hit a late Sep iPhone shipment date. 6 months for pilot production sounds about right? So good news? Wait and see.
    You’re correct about pilot. But it’s not production. It’s the lead up to production, as a low volume test. You could get a hundred wafers being processed. If good, the chips would then go to OEMs for production testing. But Apple would need tens of thousands of wafers a month to just begin to get enough to start manufacturing.

    I’m just taking the word of the info presented. We know that 3nm is six months behind original projections, because TSMC said so previously. So if volume starts in “late” 2022, it’s impossible for Apple to get enough 3nm chips for 2022, for phones, at least.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    The 4nm process will be in the new MacBook and maybe a new Mac mini in q1of 2022. The 4nm process will be the low cost chip, according to TSMC.

    The 3nm process will be used for Mac Pro, iMac Pro and MacBook Pros and a possible late release of iPhone Pro with the 4nm chips going in the iPhones.
    watto_cobra
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