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Intel and Apple First to Adopt TSMC's 3nm Technology: Report

(Image credit: TSMC)

Apple and Intel will be the first to adopt Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.'s (TSMC) N3 (3nm) fabrication process when the contract maker of chips deploys in late 2022, Nikkei Asia news agency reported on Friday. Intel is projected to use the technology to make CPUs for PCs and servers, whereas Apple is expected to use the node for its system-on-chips aimed at client devices.  

Apple and Intel are currently 'testing their chip designs' produced using TSMC's N3 process, according to a Nikkei report that cites several people with knowledge of the matter. Given that N3 is about to 'officially' enter risk production mode in the coming weeks and assuming that the information from the news agency is correct, we can speculate that Apple and Intel have already finalized their N3 CPUs and SoCs. Though it is unclear whether they have functional silicon. Commercial production of these chips is set to start in the second half of 2022.  

Intel is said to be preparing at least two products made using TSMC's N3 node: one aimed at notebooks, another for servers. There are no details about these processors at present, but Intel has already accidentally confirmed TSMC-made Xeon SoCs aimed at various niche markets. Intel confirmed months ago that it is working with TSMC on its 2023 products, but refrained from revealing any details.
Earlier this year Intel promised that its codenamed Meteor Lake and Granite Rapids processors for client PCs and high-end servers set to be made using its own 7 nm fabrication technology were due to be launched in 2023.  

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TSMC N3 Information

(Image credit: TSMC)
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TSMC N3 Information

(Image credit: TSMC)

The report also says that Apple is set to use its N3 SoC for its iPad tablets due in late 2022 or early 2023. Keeping in mind that Apple's latest iPad Pros use the same SoCs as the company's entry-level and midrange Macs, there is the possibility that the initial N3 SoC might also find its way into PCs. Subsequent N3-based devices from Apple will be used for smartphones. Apple did not comment on the story. 

TSMC's N3 manufacturing process is the company's all-new node that will provide a full node PPA (performance, power, area) improvement over N5. The foundry promises a 10% to 15% performance gain (at the same power and transistor count), up to 30% power reduction (at the same clocks and complexity), up to 70% logic density gain, and an up to 20% SRAM density gain. N3 will aggressively use extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) for 'over 20 layers,' ASML once said. 

At its recent technology symposium TSMC confirmed that N3 is designed to support both smartphones and high-performance computing (HPC) applications from the very start, so the company will offer both high-performance and high-density libraries with the node. Such libraries will enable companies like Intel to maximize performance of its CPUs, whereas SoC designers will be able to pack more features into their products.

  • peachpuff
    Go home intel, stop wasting tsmc's capacity.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    peachpuff said:
    Go home intel, stop wasting tsmc's capacity.
    Looks like someone really enjoyed those $300+ 5600X and wanted the 6600X to be $400+. If you don't want AMD to price-gouge people, you need a competitive Intel to keep it in check just as much as you needed a competitive AMD to keep Intel's soaring prices and stagnant features in check only a few years ago.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    InvalidError said:
    Looks like someone really enjoyed those $300+ 5600X and wanted the 6600X to be $400+. If you don't want AMD to price-gouge people, you need a competitive Intel to keep it in check just as much as you needed a competitive AMD to keep Intel's soaring prices and stagnant features in check only a few years ago.
    I read this more like Intel taking away capacity from TSMC's top nodes so AMD has not the edge on whatever they end up manufacturing there. Intel has the cash to pull shenanigans like these, so don't think Intel is doing it "for the sake of competition". Intel has proven time and time again they don't care about it, since it affects their bottom line.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Yuka said:
    Intel has proven time and time again they don't care about it, since it affects their bottom line.
    Intel being four years late on its own manufacturing is affecting its bottom line too since it means it needs to use more silicon and power for any given amount of processing power and isn't going to have significantly improved manufacturing of its own for at least another two years.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    InvalidError said:
    Intel being four years late on its own manufacturing is affecting its bottom line too since it means it needs to use more silicon and power for any given amount of processing power and isn't going to have significantly improved manufacturing of its own for at least another two years.
    It's not like they didn't have the option before. So your point is somewhat moot. Plus, they never anticipated it was going to be so bad, I'm sure. If they did, they would have tried to block Apple and AMD earlier. Because I'm thinking it's not just AMD they're trying to block here.

    Let's see what products they produce there and decide then.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Yuka said:
    It's not like they didn't have the option before. So your point is somewhat moot.
    What option? At the time TSMC started volume production on 7nm, it was already backlogged by over a year, same with 5nm. If you want timely access to next-gen process, you have to commit early or you aren't getting anything through any time soon.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    Well Intel can and do outproduce amd. And now it even outbuy amd in tsmc… good. Only Intel cpus in the future. That has to be good ;)
    It just prove how much more money Intel has!
    /s
    Reply
  • gg83
    Intel getting N3 is probably since Huawei can't use cutting edge IP. Right?
    Reply
  • usiname
    InvalidError said:
    Looks like someone really enjoyed those $300+ 5600X and wanted the 6600X to be $400+. If you don't want AMD to price-gouge people, you need a competitive Intel to keep it in check just as much as you needed a competitive AMD to keep Intel's soaring prices and stagnant features in check only a few years ago.
    Looks like someone don't understand how the things work, now we have intel producing tons 14nm and TSMC strungling to produce enogth 7nm CPUs for amd. What will happend when we cut intel's factorys and everything is produced in TSMC? How removing intel's fab from the equation will make the situation better?
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    usiname said:
    Looks like someone don't understand how the things work, now we have intel producing tons 14nm and TSMC strungling to produce enogth 7nm CPUs for amd. What will happend when we cut intel's factorys and everything is produced in TSMC? How removing intel's fab from the equation will make the situation better?
    Intel is still selling everything that their 14nm fabs can produce, and the 3nm from tsmc would only be a very small fraction of that, it would hurt intel more than anybody else if they switched the production of all of their CPUs to tsmc.

    The 3nm from tsmc has the same reason that intel already bought 7nm from tsmc, it's for making their new GPUs. Intel's CPUs will keep being 14nm and will switch to intel's 10nm next year...maybe, because 14nm still sells so well, they might want to stay with it for longer.
    Reply