TSMC actively mass-produces 5nm chips: but Apple A14 may not meet on time
Recently, the world’s largest chip foundry TSMC (TSM) released financial report data showing that the company’s net profit attributable to ordinary shareholders in fiscal year 2019 was NT$345.264 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 4.9%, and operating income was 10699.85 NT$100 million, a year-on-year increase of 3.73%.
In terms of specific business, the 7nm process, which was the first to mass-produce in 2018, has brought TSMC revenue of about NT$280.023 billion last year. At present, TSMC is actively mass-producing 5nm chips, and it is expected that 5nm chips will achieve mass production in the first half of 2020.
(The picture comes from OFweek Weike.com)
Recruiting recruits, TSMC impacts the 5nm advanced process
5nm is TSMC’s second-generation manufacturing process using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology. It has demonstrated excellent optical capabilities and a good chip yield that meets expectations. It entered the trial production stage in March 2019. According to TSMC, its 5nm process will fully use EUV lithography technology. Compared with the 4-layer EUV mask of the 7nm process, the 5nm E process will increase the EUV mask to 14-15 layers, making more full use of EUV lithography technology. In addition, the new 5nm chip will reduce power consumption by 30%, increase the speed by 15%, the frequency will reach 3GHz, and the number of transistors will be 1.8 times that of the 7nm process.
According to Taiwan media reports, although the global economy has been affected by the “black swan event” recently, Taiwanese companies are not less willing to recruit talents. Among them, TSMC has recruited more than 1,500 positions on relevant recruitment websites, covering semiconductor engineers, equipment engineers, optical engineers and process technicians, etc., with a monthly salary of 32,000 yuan; as for semiconductor engineers, equipment engineers, optical engineers Etc., according to the technical level of TSMC, the salary ranges from 38,000 to 45,000, which are negotiable. In this way, it can be regarded as a demonstration of TSMC’s determination to fully sprint advanced processes of 5nm and below.
The status quo of 5nm progress, supporting Apple and Huawei’s flagship chip orders
According to equipment manufacturers, TSMC’s 5nm chip orders in the second half of the year are close to full load, including Huawei’s new flagship chip series, Apple A14 chip, Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 baseband chip and a new generation of Snapdragon 875 chips, all of which will be built by TSMC.
Of course, Apple does not need to say more. TSMC’s old customers for more than 5 years are also TSMC’s main source of revenue. It is expected that the foundry A14 chip. The original plan was to mass-produce the A14 chip with a 5nm process for the iPhone 12 series in April. Now that it has been affected by the new crown pneumonia epidemic, Apple’s supply chain has also been affected to some extent. The originally planned spring conference is very likely to be cancelled, and the appearance of the A14 chip is not known for how long it will be delayed.
In addition to Apple, it is reported that Huawei HiSilicon will release two 5nm chips this year, one of which is the long-awaited Kirin 1020, which will debut TSMC’s 5nm process and will also use ARM’s latest A77+G77 architecture. . However, recent news shows that the Trump administration is considering changing regulations, intending to reduce the US technology content limit from 25% to 10%, while requiring chip companies around the world to obtain a license before they can use it. The essence of the US equipment production of chips supplied to Huawei is to restrict chip manufacturers including TSMC from selling chip products to Huawei.
Then there is the order from Qualcomm. In terms of 10nm, 7nm, and 7nm EUV processes, TSMC is leading Samsung in mass production for a year and a half, but at the Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 conference last month, the world’s first 5nm process chip was released, and Samsung was also confirmed OEM Qualcomm 5nm baseband processor, which also means that Samsung preempted TSMC to launch the 5nm process chip. However, TSMC still has enough confidence in the 5nm process. In the follow-up, TSMC may still be responsible for some orders for the Snapdragon X60, and the two foundries subcontract this large order.
2022 or direct launch of 3nm process
Industry insiders speculate that the 5nm chip business in 2020 may bring a 10% revenue contribution to TSMC. However, in addition to 5nm chips, TSMC has not stopped the pace of research and development. Before its own 5nm process is available, TSMC has already released the news that it will develop a 3nm process in advance.
Different from the 5nm process that is widely used in SoC chip products, the 3nm process will be used in more advanced ultra-precision semiconductor chips such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and 5G mobile communications. This more advanced process is expected to be in 2022. Achieve initial production. Therefore, in recent years, 7nm chips and 5nm chips will still be the main demands of the market.
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