It looks like TSMC is the belle of the ball, and everyone wants a dance. DigiTimes today reported that, according to anonymous industry sources, the semiconductor manufacturer's lead time for 7nm chips has tripled from two months to six months because of high demand.
Right now AMD is the most well-known purchaser of 7nm chips from TSMC--the company relies on those chips in Ryzen 3000 processors and Navi graphics. Nvidia told us in July that it will make its next-gen GPUs with both TSMC and Samsung, meaning the two largest discrete graphics companies will be vying for the manufacturer's 7nm chips, assuming the reports about Nvidia adopting a 7nm process are true.
Bloomberg reported in July that Apple tapped TSMC and its 7nm process for the A13 used in the iPhone 11 as well. (The company then revealed the A13 Bionic on September 10, and it confirmed the chip is made using a 7nm process, but it didn't name the manufacturer.) It's possible that demand from this triumvirate alone ramped up quicker than TSMC anticipated, resulting in these increased lead times.
Meanwhile, TSMC has been upgrading its 7nm processes to offer improved performance and lower power draws, as we reported in July. DigiTimes said in today's report that the company will be increasing its budget for various nodes, too. Introducing a variety of 7nm processes that can serve different kinds of devices could help reduce competition for the limited number of 7nm chips TSMC makes.
All of this arrives shortly after GlobalFoundries filed multiple lawsuits against TSMC in the U.S. and Germany. The suits alleged that TSMC used GF's "proprietary technology in its tens of billions of dollars of sales." Now GF is looking to halt the import of devices that use processors made by TSMC--which includes some of the products made by Nvidia and Apple--until the case is decided.