TSMC’s 3nm process enters pilot production phase at Taiwan fab


Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reportedly entered the pilot production phase on its 3nm process, or N3, at Fab 18 in southern Taiwan. Should everything go according to schedule, TSMC will move to volume production by the end of 2022.

Unnamed industry sources told DigiTimes (paywalled, via MacRumors) that TSMC aims to start shipping 3nm chips to customers like Intel and Apple in the first quarter of 2023, which jives with earlier rumors on the subject.

The first 3nm chips from Apple are expected to ship in future Macs and iPhones as the M3 and the A17 Bionic, respectively. Last month, The Information said some Apple M3 chips could pack as many as four dies with up to 40 cores. For comparison, current-gen M1 Pro and M1 Max chips feature 10-core CPUs.

In the interim, we’re likely to see Macs with M2 chips and iPhone 14 models ship with hardware built on TSMN’s N4P process, which is the company’s third major enhancement to its 5nm process. TSMC back in October said N4P will deliver an 11 percent performance boost over the original N5 tech and a six percent boost over N4. N4P will also deliver a 22 percent improvement in power efficiency over N5, we’re told.

In related news, Intel is reportedly set to visit TSMC later this month to discuss 3nm chip production and manufacturing capacity. Intel aims to develop a closer relationship with TSMC to avoid a fight with Apple over available 3nm capacity.