TSMC hoping to move 3nm production to US, now starting work towards 1nm

AlphaX

Posts: 56   +16
Staff
The big picture: It's been an eventful few months in the processing industry, with tech companies releasing new products left and right. The influx of devices isn't stopping, as TSMC has plans to relocate 3nm development to the United States, and that's not the only news.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has been in the news frequently lately, with many companies releasing products that include the chip fabricator's semiconductors and process nodes. The Taiwanese chip producer has reliably supplied AMD with its 5nm processors since 2020 and even provided new 4nm nodes for Nvidia's recent Ada Lovelace graphics cards.

The iPhone 14 also features TSMC's 4nm process node. However, as its largest customer, Apple often gets the latest and greatest developments from the supplier. As such, Cupertino plans to move to TSMC's 3nm process for the iPhone 15.

Currently, TSMC only produces 3nm nodes within its home country of Taiwan. While this doesn't necessarily cause any significant issues or hang-ups during Apple's development process, there are ways to streamline it. The two companies have one idea: move all of TSMC's 3nm production to the United States.

In 2020, TSMC began plans to build a processing and development plant within the US. Initial estimates put the construction's completion in 2021. However, after two delays, the deadline is now Q1 2023. Assuming they meet this timeframe, iPhone 15 models will feature a brand new 3nm processor made in the United States.

In related news, one of TSMC's Taiwan-based plants has begun focusing on finding breakthroughs to reaching 1nm process nodes. Of course, as processors become more compact, they become much harder to produce consistently. So TSMC engineers must find new materials and methods to shrink to 1nm and smaller processes.

To this end, TSMC partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Taiwan University (NTU) to research and develop new methods. After loads of engineering and testing, they discovered that combining "2D materials" and "semi-metallic bismuth" results in extremely low resistance, which may overcome the most challenging aspect of producing 1nm nodes.

The research teams did confirm that 1nm nodes are still years away from being produced and sold in consumer products. We will not see current plans for 2nm nodes until late 2024. So it could easily be at least five years for such a breakthrough. Who knows, maybe we will see picometer-sized (1000 pm = 1nm) nodes before the end of the decade if these breakthroughs continue.

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zulu53

Posts: 193   +70
Move to the US. Great for control of the supply chain but bad for cost of the iPhone 15 (unless Apple are forced vias anti-trust law enforcement or voluntarily lower their profit margin from niche to commodity levels.) Since the US Government place a high value on control of the supply I do not see the FTC or DOJ being allowed by Congress or the Senate to enforce the law - as it is now they will allow TSMC and Apple to break the law by giving them a variance. So expect a 20% price increase coming on the iPhone15; all in the name of US security.
 

zulu53

Posts: 193   +70
1 nm technology. Per the laws of nature; the law of diminishing returns is asymptotic; and it looks like for chips the point of no gain is around 1nm. I have heard this for years: but of course, there is always a group out there (MIT in this case) willing to get paid to break the laws of nature. Again, it has been said many times before: quantum computing is the breakthrough technology required for the future not bismuth or any other compound on the periodic table. Its time for a new paradigm - the old one has done its job and gone as far as it can be expected to go.
 

human7

Posts: 130   +101
1 nm technology. Per the laws of nature; the law of diminishing returns is asymptotic; and it looks like for chips the point of no gain is around 1nm. I have heard this for years: but of course, there is always a group out there (MIT in this case) willing to get paid to break the laws of nature. Again, it has been said many times before: quantum computing is the breakthrough technology required for the future not bismuth or any other compound on the periodic table. Its time for a new paradigm - the old one has done its job and gone as far as it can be expected to go.

Eventually you are right, we won't be able to miniaturize any further. But quantum computing can only accelerate certain tasks, and I suspect widespread use of quantum computing is further out than sub-1nm process nodes.

There are other classical computer proposals, such as optical computers, that might be the next generation solution, but they, like quantum, have a lot of obstacles to overcome, first.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,312   +959
Meanwhile most of us are happy with current processing power and really just want more battery life.

Still be nice for 5w-10w powerful enough for browsing/casual gaming windows/linux/chrome desktop.
Build a complete SOC APU/memory etc with small MB for lan/wifi/BT/usbc +single drive ( slot card ? )
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 1,022   +1,881
Move to the US. Great for control of the supply chain but bad for cost of the iPhone 15 (unless Apple are forced vias anti-trust law enforcement or voluntarily lower their profit margin from niche to commodity levels.) Since the US Government place a high value on control of the supply I do not see the FTC or DOJ being allowed by Congress or the Senate to enforce the law - as it is now they will allow TSMC and Apple to break the law by giving them a variance. So expect a 20% price increase coming on the iPhone15; all in the name of US security.

I can see it now.

Apple: We are here to show the new iPhone 15! It now has 6 cameras: 1 for still, 1 for slow motion, 1 for super-slow motion, 1 for high speed, 1 for super close up and 1 for.....it doesn't matter what the last one is for because, 6! No more memory or storage compared to the iPhone14. Also, the battery life is about 25% worse, we had to skim some where to pass along the savings to you. The screen size is smaller than the iPhone 14, but we've increased the resolution to 8K!

<cheers and applauding erupts>

Apple: Here comes the most exciting news of the night......the phones are made in 'Murica!

<more cheers and applauding>

Apple: We have to increase the price of them to $1999 because....the phones are made in 'Murica!

<cheering and applauding intensify>

Apple: The iPhone 15 starts at $1999 and that's for the entry level phone. There will be limited availability on this model because....ummm....because of the....uh, lack of smaller screens! Don't worry though because we have the iPhone 15+ in endless quantities and it even comes with a slightly larger screen and a 7th camera that retails for $2799!

<cheering and applauding noise has now surpassed Beatles and Elvis fans combined, the sound is deafening!>


As we can see here, it doesn't matter what they'll cost. Apple fans will pay.
 

Arbie

Posts: 431   +753
A TSMC honcho earlier this year explained why fabs in the US won't be competitive with those in Asia, especially Taiwan. Because, generally speaking, we can refuse to be worked that hard. Fabs are hugely complex and require intense 24/7 attention by trained staff. Even more so with leading edge tech. You can't get enough high quality US workers to "live the job" like that, for long enough. We're a huge, open country with many other opportunities.

So, while with enough government incentives TSMC will build and produce here, they know what's going to happen. That's probably Intel's fab problem too btw.
 
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seeprime

Posts: 696   +922
1nm is only two atoms wide. Developing the manufacturing technique will probably take longer than expected, due to the difficulty of producing perfect traces. One error will cause serious issues, where a circuit is half of the design, and lead to tons of binning, since the resistance will be great where the error is located.
 

HardReset

Posts: 1,755   +1,434
1nm is only two atoms wide. Developing the manufacturing technique will probably take longer than expected, due to the difficulty of producing perfect traces. One error will cause serious issues, where a circuit is half of the design, and lead to tons of binning, since the resistance will be great where the error is located.
1nm is just marketing term. There will be nothing actually 1nm in "1nm" process.
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,261   +2,732
Staff member
1nm is only two atoms wide.
The whole nm thing with semiconductor fabs is just a marketing thing, there’s nothing really 5, 3, or 1 nm about it. This is why TSMC use the names N5, N3, etc to differentiate their process nodes.

Of course, it’s still effectively using a scaling metric that’s no longer suitable but we’ll be stuck with it for a few more years.

Edit: Sorry @HardReset I hadn’t seen your post before replying.
 

emmzo

Posts: 764   +1,182
I can see it now.

Apple: We are here to show the new iPhone 15! It now has 6 cameras: 1 for still, 1 for slow motion, 1 for super-slow motion, 1 for high speed, 1 for super close up and 1 for.....it doesn't matter what the last one is for because, 6! No more memory or storage compared to the iPhone14. Also, the battery life is about 25% worse, we had to skim some where to pass along the savings to you. The screen size is smaller than the iPhone 14, but we've increased the resolution to 8K!

<cheers and applauding erupts>

Apple: Here comes the most exciting news of the night......the phones are made in 'Murica!

<more cheers and applauding>

Apple: We have to increase the price of them to $1999 because....the phones are made in 'Murica!

<cheering and applauding intensify>

Apple: The iPhone 15 starts at $1999 and that's for the entry level phone. There will be limited availability on this model because....ummm....because of the....uh, lack of smaller screens! Don't worry though because we have the iPhone 15+ in endless quantities and it even comes with a slightly larger screen and a 7th camera that retails for $2799!

<cheering and applauding noise has now surpassed Beatles and Elvis fans combined, the sound is deafening!>


As we can see here, it doesn't matter what they'll cost. Apple fans will pay.
People think now they are entitled to afford the latest tech. I still remember the '80s, '90s, when I was happy as hell getting some cool tech once a year. I'd say, bring the infrastructure, the jobs back to democracies and increase prices if that's what it takes, people need to reassess value.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,772   +6,596
A TSMC honcho earlier this year explained why fabs in the US won't be competitive with those in Asia, especially Taiwan. Because, generally speaking, we refuse to be worked that hard. Fabs are hugely complex and require intense 24/7 attention by trained staff. Even more so with leading edge tech. You can't get enough high quality US workers to "live the job" like that, for long enough. We're a huge, open country with many other opportunities.

So, while with enough government incentives TSMC will build and produce here, they know what's going to happen. That's probably Intel's fab problem too btw.
We operate fabs all across america without issue. We just refuse to be treated like slave labor, which is a concept that is totally alien to asian countries.

 

kira setsu

Posts: 407   +386
People think now they are entitled to afford the latest tech. I still remember the '80s, '90s, when I was happy as hell getting some cool tech once a year. I'd say, bring the infrastructure, the jobs back to democracies and increase prices if that's what it takes, people need to reassess value.
devs would actually have to optimize their programs(looking at you game devs) instead of leaning on the meanest hardware available.

 

Arbie

Posts: 431   +753
We operate fabs all across america without issue. We just refuse to be treated like slave labor, which is a concept that is totally alien to asian countries.
Intel's fabs have for at least 5 years been notoriously unable to produce, much less keep up. That's exactly why they now buy the cutting edge from TSMC. As for "we refuse to be treated like slaves" and "asian concepts" and your jingoistic superiority mindset in general: if you were plunked down in Taiwan without a nickel - and ignoring all language and education and experience barriers - you'd be glad to get one of those jobs. Because you can't eat a concept.
 

sorten

Posts: 165   +273
Moving the fab process for the iPhone 15 to the United States will be the opposite of streamlining. They'll have to ship the chips back to China (or maybe India by that time) for the phone assembly with all of the other parts made in Asia. If, on the other hand, they're also going to be manufacturing the phones in the United States, then the majority of the other parts will have to be shipped here. It will be many years before they'll be able to establish an efficient supply chain for that scenario.
 

Rq3EWAq

Posts: 133   +136
1nm, yeah.. 🤣 It's been a while since this meant something useful. Soon we will be in negative nm territory. World's first -10nm processor what will be something. 😂
 

Rq3EWAq

Posts: 133   +136
A TSMC honcho earlier this year explained why fabs in the US won't be competitive with those in Asia, especially Taiwan. Because, generally speaking, we can refuse to be worked that hard. Fabs are hugely complex and require intense 24/7 attention by trained staff. Even more so with leading edge tech. You can't get enough high quality US workers to "live the job" like that, for long enough. We're a huge, open country with many other opportunities.

So, while with enough government incentives TSMC will build and produce here, they know what's going to happen. That's probably Intel's fab problem too btw.

In other words, Americans are too lazy to be even compared with Taiwanese? How do they even plan to "make America great again" if Americans aren't ready to manufacture things they need? US needs to import almost everything while enriching other smarter nations.
 

Arbie

Posts: 431   +753
In other words, Americans are too lazy to be even compared with Taiwanese?
"Lazy" and "refuse to be worked that hard" are two different things... duh. Americans have more options than do Taiwanese; a point that I made clear. Go trade cultural animadversions with TIG.
 

SixTymes

Posts: 193   +133
Meanwhile most of us are happy with current processing power and really just want more battery life.
3nm is projected to be the vector point where performance will be retained and power draw lessoned. Thus, longer battery life.
 

Knot Schure

Posts: 409   +195
A TSMC honcho earlier this year explained why fabs in the US won't be competitive with those in Asia, especially Taiwan. Because, generally speaking, we can refuse to be worked that hard. Fabs are hugely complex and require intense 24/7 attention by trained staff. Even more so with leading edge tech. You can't get enough high quality US workers to "live the job" like that, for long enough. We're a huge, open country with many other opportunities.

So, while with enough government incentives TSMC will build and produce here, they know what's going to happen. That's probably Intel's fab problem too btw.
For permies - yes.
For those of us they need to whip like this, they hire us as contractors, with a handsome daily rate. Try refusing to work OT and see if you make the next project...
I had to shout from the highest mountains to get more warm bodies for my last task. I'm a chilled guy, but the stress was out of control...
Luckily they caved in.
Peace.