TSMC’s second-generation 7nm process using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography will be ready for mass production as early as this June, according to a recent report. Apple’s A12, Qualcomm’s 855 and Huawei’s Kirin 980 chips are manufactured on TSMC’s first-generation 7nm process.
TSMC 7nm EUV Mass Production
The latest report said that TSMC will start mass production of 7nm EUV chips at the end of the second quarter of this year. It also noted that the first chip to be mass-produced on this node will be Huawei’s Kirin 985 processor.
The Kirin 985 processor was initially expected to arrive in the Huawei Mate 30 in the first half of the year, but it looks like it won’t ship until the third quarter. According to the same report, Li Xiaolong, the Deputy General Manager of Huawei’s mobile phone product line, said that the Mate 30 has entered the verification test phase, a process that normally takes about 5-6 months.
Apple’s A13 chip, which should arrive in the new iPhones this fall, should also be built on TSMC’s new 7nm EUV process.
Battle of 7nm Process Technologies
Samsung was able to beat TSMC in manufacturing chips with EUV technology by almost a year. However, because it was trying to integrate this completely new technology into its brand-new 7nm process, TSMC also beat Samsung to being the first with 7nm out of the gate by a few months. Due to that, and perhaps other reasons, too, TSMC was able to win some large contracts from Apple, Qualcomm, and Huawei.
Where is Intel in all of this? The company is still having issues mass producing 10nm chips that are more or less equivalent with TSMC and Samsung’s 7nm processes, while the latter two are already moving on to their second-generation 7nm processes.
Intel is also yet to use EUV lithography, and probably won’t use it for years, which should allow Samsung and TSMC to gain more experience with it and use that expertise as a competitive edge against Intel in the future.
TSMC has also already begun trial production of its 5nm process, and the company is expected to begin 5nm mass production no later than the end of 2020.