Forward-looking: Innovation goals for advanced manufacturing processes are on track at TSMC. Following the completion of 7nm EUV, there is already a clear path forward to 5nm, then down to 3nm.
Beginning at the end of March, TSMC will be ready to begin mass production of 7nm wafers using extreme ultraviolet lithography. ASML, a producer of lithography machinery has already allocated 18 of the 30 systems it is building in 2019 for TSMC.
Once the next six weeks pass and TSMC has its 7nm EUV production running at full scale, the company's 5nm process will be moved to risk production status. EUV will remain in use for 5nm and is expected to be viable down to 3nm. By the end of 2019, TSMC will be taping out chip designs on 5nm nodes, with volume production slated for early 2020.
Even though 7nm processes have been in large scale production since April 2018, the switch to EUV allows for fewer defects and fewer steps required during the production process. The addition of new manufacturing capabilities will allow TSMC to gain additional business from high performance computing and automotive businesses.
Last year, 7nm EUV accounted for just nine percent of TSMC's wafer sales. This year, the company is on track to make the newer process bring in a quarter of its total sales.
The latest updates on TSMC match up with previous predictions and plans to build new facilities. New factories will open in 2020 for 5nm, with additional plants being built with a target of 2022 for 3nm wafers. Despite a number of issues with malware, bad chemicals, and the sheer difficulty of producing tiny transistors, TSMC remains the leader of wafer manufacturing.