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Q3 Earnings: TSMC Expects 5nm Process To Account for 20% of Revenue in 2021

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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

In TSMC's Q3 earnings call, details have surfaced about how the 5nm process will affect TSMC's finances. Long term, TSMC expects 5nm to be a 'long and large' node, meaning it'll sell in high quantities and remain key to the business for a long time.

This quarter, TSMC expects the 5nm process to account for just 8 percent of the revenue. Next year in 2021, the expectation is that it will land around 20%, though TSMC's CEO did not want to quote an exact prediction yet.

The majority of the 5nm capacity is slated to go to HPC and 5G mobile applications, which is no surprise as Apple is expected to be the number one client with not only its mobile devices, but Apple is also expected to contract TSMC for manufacturing its ARM-based CPU designs. Meanwhile, AMD's 5nm Zen 4 architecture chips are also expected to arrive onto the market in 2022, and although not certain yet, chances are they will be built on TSMC's 5nm process.

Although at this time no number can be given, TSMC stated that it is witnessing strong tape-out activities from the 5nm node in its key applications. 

"In terms of dilution from N5, we are seeing the dilution of N5 for next year to be around 2 to 3 percentage points, similar to previous nodes." said Wendell Huang, TSMC's CFO.

Long term, TSMC's target is to achieve a gross margin of 50% on production, however, for the coming year the 5nm node will reduce this figure by 2 to 3 percent, and unfavorable exchange rates are also pulling the number down a little.