TSMC expects 3nm process mass production in 2nd half of 2022


TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, said it expects its advanced 3 nanometer process to enter into mass production in the second half of 2022.

At a technology symposium held in Hsinchu, TSMC Chief Executive Officer C.C. Wei (魏哲家) said the 3nm technology is expected to be 15 percent faster and 30 percent more energy efficient than the 5nm process, which entered into commercial production in the second quarter of 2020.

Wei said trial production of the 3nm process is scheduled to start next year.

TSMC announced its plan to build a sophisticated plant for the 3nm process in Tainan in 2017, with an aim to maintain the lead over its peers including Samsung Electronics Co., and construction of the plant has already begun.

TSMC said it is also developing the more advanced 2nm process and will build a plant to produce that technology in Hsinchu, and the company is still acquiring land for the new production site.

As for the 5nm process, Wei said TSMC is speeding up the pace of the technology’s development.

The faster, more energy efficient 5nm plus process, which will use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology, should start mass production in 2021, and trial production of the 4nm process, which is based on the current 5nm process, will begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, Wei said.

Meanwhile, TSMC’s latest factory purchase announced Monday has brought its total spending on factories in Tainan this year to about NT$10 billion (US$341 million).

In a filing Monday with the Taiwan Stock Exchange, TSMC said it has bought a factory on which construction had begun from flat panel maker Hannstar Display Corp. for NT$4.84 billion.

TSMC said work on the factory, which will have an area of about 300,000 square meters, is continuing.

Earlier this year, TSMC spent NT$660 million to buy a factory owned by mask handling solution provider Gudeng Precision Industrial Co., NT$3.65 billion to buy a factory from optoelectronics maker Optimax Technology Corp. and NT$860 million to buy a factory from solar energy firm E-Tone Solar Tech Co.

All of the factories in the four deals are located in the Tainan area not far from TSMC’s production compound and will roll out 5nm and 3nm technology chips, analysts said.

Analysts said the TSMC factory purchases are aimed at expanding TSMC’s capacity in 3nm and 5nm production as well as its high-end packaging capacity.