TSMC Will Reportedly Start Taking 7nm Orders in April 2017

29 Sep

The development of Taiwanese leading foundry TSMC’s 7nm manufacturing process appears to be advancing rapidly, as the company is now rumored to be preparing for the mass production of its first 7nm chips in Q1 of 2018, which is three years ahead of Intel Corporation’s 7nm production schedule. The latest update also shows that the company is considering taking orders as early as April of 2017.

TSMC revealed its R&D roadmap for the next few years in an internal meeting. According to senior officials, the company is expected to switch to the 10nm process by the end of 2016, and will launch trial production of 7nm products in 2017. It’s projected that TSMC will be able to start receiving orders by April 2017. Meanwhile, the 16nm FinFET compact (FFC) process, which is more refined than the 16FF+ process, will be adopted this year.  The manufacturing process of 7nm products will significantly increase power efficiency at clocks of around 3.8 Ghz at 1V vcore, while the threshold voltage can be as low as 0.4V. The operating temperature will be around 150 degrees, reported WCCFtech.

Compared to the 16FF+ process, the 10nm FinFET process will scale down 50% of the chip size while increasing 50% of the computing capacity and lowering 40% of electricity consumption. In comparison, 7nm chips using FinFET process can only increase 15% of efficiency while cutting 35% of energy consumption and increasing only 163% of transistor. The progress is not as significant as that of 10nm ones. The reason for this is that TSMC’s 10nm FinFET process is approximately equal to that of Intel’s 14nm while TSMC’s 7nm is similar to that of Intel’s 14nm. In other words, TSMC’s 7nm is similar to Intel’s 10nm process and could be slightly worse than Intel’s 10nm.

AMD has hinted that the company is expected to jump directly from the 16nm to 7nm process. However, the company’s chip supplier GlobalFoundries will not be expected to kick off trial production until 2018, which is one full year behind TSMC. AMD has long revised the agreement, stating that GlobalFoundries will not be their sole supplier. In addition, AMD might turn to TSMC should it provide better products compared to GlobalFoundries.

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