TSMC announced this week that is has completed its 5nm process design infrastructure. This process generation will target chips for both mobile devices, as well as high-performance computing applications.
TSMC 5nm Process Risk Production
TSMC said that its 5nm process is already in risk production. The company claimed it would offer customers a new level of both performance and power optimization. Compared to TSMC's 7nm process, the new process generation promises 1.8 times the logic density, 15% speed gain on an Arm Cortex-A72 core, as well as improved SRAM and analog area reduction.
The 5nm process generation will be TSMC’s second to use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, which simplifies the manufacturing process. According to TSMC, the EUV lithography also offers excellent yield learning, allowing the 5nm process to achieve a level of maturity faster than previous TSMC process nodes at the same development stage.
The new 5nm process design infrastructure is now available for customers to download from TSMC Online.
TSMC Process Leadership Continues
While TSMC is now moving forward to the 5nm process technology, Intel is still struggling to deliver 10nm chips and even 14nm ones. Although one may argue that TSMC's 5nm is not really a 5nm process (just as Intel's “14nm process” isn’t really 14nm), in the end, TSMC is still pulling ahead by providing chip vendors with more cutting edge performance and power optimization for their chips.
TSMC and Intel don’t compete directly. Intel has mostly kept to manufacturing its own chips. However, TSMC’s customers do compete with Intel, and they want to build chips that are just as powerful and energy efficient as Intel’s.
TSMC said earlier this year that its 5nm process would be ready for volume production by the end of 2020, which should be well ahead of Intel’s own relatively competitive 7nm process. Apple’s 2020 iPhone chips are expected to use TSMC’s 5nm EUV process.