TSMC Eyeing Sub-2nm Chip Production Site Suggests Report

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After some trouble earlier this year to start the land acquisition and development process for its fabs to make next-generation semiconductors, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has moved ahead with the process in Taiwan’s Taichung City. The world’s largest contract chip manufacturer is currently mass-producing processors on the 3-nanometer node. Within two years, it plans to upgrade its transistor design to 2-nanometer in an ever-important shift to GAAFET (Gate all around) transistors from the FinFET transistors on the 3-nanometer process.

Yet, TSMC already has its eye on the future, as a report in the Taiwanese press quoting Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen shares that a plant expansion in the city can include sub 2-nm chip production.

Taichung Officials Cite Favorable Power Capacity As Key Factor In Ensuring TSMC Continues To Rely On City For High End Chip Manufacturing Plants

Regarding Taiwan’s economic affairs, TSMC’s central position at the heart of the global semiconductor industry ensures that the firm plays a role larger than life. Its chip manufacturing plants are among the most advanced in the world, which often means that the local economy benefits in the form of spending from thousands of employees.

Today’s report, courtesy of the UDN, shares that when Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen was asked if TSMC’s plans to move to the city are final after officials approved a manufacturing site expansion plan earlier, she shared that TSMC will set up its most advanced chip-making factories in the city. The mayor even went as far as to state that if her memory is sharp, then it is possible that the freshly approved expansion plans also include machines that can churn out sub 2-nanometer chips.

Semiconductor fabrication is one of the most R&D intense industry in the world as chip makers have to prepare years in advance before they can put a new product technology into mass production. The early stages of research and develpopment involve validating manufacturing techniques to ensure that machines and materials can perform at high production rates. These high rates then mean that the risk of defects is inevitable, and fine tuning the machines to remove these takes months.

The next step down in TSMC’s process technology roadmap after 2-nm is 1.4-nm. For TSMC, this particular process will also mark a shift in the way that the firm classifies its chip manufacturing technologies. TSMC’s latest 3-nm manufacturing process is part of the N3 family that will remain in production for years from now.

With 1.4-nm, the firm will switch its naming and call the process A14 instead. Interestingly, this shift can allow TSMC to introduce new chip manufacturing processes rather quickly, since it will be able to market a mere 0.1 nanometer reduction in feature size under a new branding. If 1.4-nm is A14, then 1.3-nm is A13.

Yet, as the fab chases down the smallest feature size, its production facilityieis consume copious amounts of power and water. Mayor Lu shared with the press that TSMC’s chip plants in her city account for more than a third of its electricity consumption and nearly a tenth of its water consumption. According to her, this smooth supply of water and power is key to ensuring that Taichung remains TSMC’s first choice for high end chip manufacturing sites.

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