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Report: TSMC Extends 16nm Lead Time

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We already knew TSMC's customers were fighting over a limited supply of the company's 7nm chips. But it turns out that wasn't the only flavor in short supply: Digitimes reported yesterday that TSMC's 16nm chips have "also seen tight capacity" that has seen their "delivery lead time extended" despite using older nodes.

There's no denying that 7nm chips are the flavor of the week. (Do chips have weekly flavors? Anyway.) AMD uses them in its Ryzen and EPYC processors, as well as Navi graphics. Nvidia is planning to use them in its next-generation GPUs. Apple's new A13 Bionic system-on-a-chip is believed to be sourced from TSMC as well.

All this demand for its 7nm chips recently led TSMC to extend its lead time from two months to six, according to Digitimes, which also reported that the company then had to tell its customers to finalize their orders for the entirety of 2020. IC Insights said TSMC's 7nm process has grown quicker than any of its predecessors.

But that doesn't mean companies stopped needing silicon made with TSMC's other nodes. The 16nm node is practically ancient--TSMC said it started production in November 2013. That means it's had nearly six years to figure out how to crank out as many chips as possible with that node, yet it's still having supply issues.

It's not clear what led to this higher-than-expected demand for 16nm chips, but it is clear that things are looking pretty good for TSMC. (So long as you don't count that legal dispute with GlobalFoundries, which shows no signs of stopping.) That's what happens when seemingly everyone wants a chip off the old and the new block.