In context: 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for TSMC as the company continues to advance its 5nm and 3nm process nodes, due in 2020 and 2022, respectively. TSMC is also making moves to capitalize on the emerging 5G market, which is expected to see serious growth next year with the first 5G-capable handsets.
TSMC's migration towards ever smaller transistors continues unabated, as announced by JK Wang, the company's senior vice president for fab operations. According to Wang, TSMC looks good to enter volume production with its 5nm process in the second half of 2020. Meanwhile, TSMC is still on track for commercial production of 3nm by 2022. In fact, TSMC is preparing to break ground on a new facility aimed at 3nm development.
Back in October, TSMC revealed it was increasing its CapEx spending for both 7nm and 5nm nodes, with the majority of the increase aimed at outfitting fabs for 5nm production.
As TSMC noted, this was in anticipation of a rather aggressive 5G market in 2020. And, if recent reports regarding Apple's 5G expectations are to be believed, TSMC's forecast that the 5G market will get off the ground next year could be well founded.
Additionally, Apple is rumored to be rolling out no less than four 5G iPhones in 2020, and they'll be powered by Apple's first 5nm SoC, presumably the A14 Bionic. While the 5G hype has phone makers scrambling to cram 5G modems into new devices, 5G modems will require significantly more power to deliver the promised throughput. Thus, the shrink to 5nm is needed to maintain efficiency. Regardless, 2020 promises to be an interesting year for semiconductors.