TSMC begins 7nm+ mass production; 6nm trial production planned for Q1

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is the world's largest dedicated semiconductor foundry. (Shutterstock)
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is the world's largest dedicated semiconductor foundry. (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, has begun mass production of chips made with its advanced 7 nanometer-plus technology.

The trial production of chips made on the even more advanced 6nm process is scheduled for the first quarter of 2020, TSMC said.

In a statement released Oct. 7, TSMC said its 7nm+ process began volume production in the second quarter of 2019, and is currently matching yields similar to the original 7nm process, which has been in commercial production for more than a year.

In the wake of the progress of its development of sophisticated technologies, shares of TSMC gained 3.06 percent to close at the day’s high of NT$286.50 (US$9.24) with 35.19 million shares changing hands on the local main board Tuesday, dealers said.

Due to the strong showing that pushed up TSMC shares to a record high, its market capitalization also hit a new high of NT$7.43 trillion.

TSMC shares served as a driver to boost the broader market Tuesday, where the benchmark weighted index ended up 0.75 percent at 11,017.31.

“I think foreign institutional investors continued to buy into the stock amid optimism toward TSMC’s business outlook,” Hua Nan Securities Investment Management Chairman David Chu said. “The news on the progress of the 7nm+ process development simply sparked more foreign institutional buying.”

“The buying was also triggered after several foreign brokerages raised their target prices on the stock to a level of more than NT$300,” Chu said.

According to TSMC, the volume production of the 7nm+ process, which is one of the fastest on record, helped the chipmaker maintain a lead over its peers in high-end technology development, as the process is the global semiconductor industry’s first commercially available Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology.

TSMC said the EUV technology enables the company to keep driving chip scaling as the shorter wavelength of EUV light is better able to print the nanometer-scale features of advanced technology designs.

TSMC added that compared to the 7nm process, the 7nm+ technology provides 15 percent-20 percent more density and improved power consumption, which makes the process an increasingly popular choice for the industry’s next-wave products.

The chipmaker said the 7nm+ process is paving the way for the company to launch trial production of chips made on the more advanced 6nm process in the first quarter of next year, and volume production is planned by the end of the year.

On the back of the further application of EUV, TSMC said, the 6nm process is expected to offer 18 percent higher logic density over the 7nm technology, and design rules are expected to become fully compatible with the 7nm process, which will enable customers to shorten time-to-market significantly.

In addition to the 6nm process, TSMC is also developing more advanced technologies, including the 5nm and 3nm technologies.

“With artificial intelligence and 5G unlocking so many new improvements, our customers are full of innovative leading-edge design ideas, and they are relying on TSMC’s technology and manufacturing to make them real,” Kevin Zhang (張曉強), TSMC vice president of business development, said in the statement.

“Our success in EUV is another great example of how TSMC not only makes leading-edge designs possible, but also delivers in high volume,” Zhang said.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Frances Huang)


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