TSMC Unveils Aggressive Roadmap With 7nm in 2017

/ 4 years ago

TSMC Wafer

Even though we’re getting closer and closer tot he end of silicon shrinking, the semiconductor foundries aren’t giving up just yet. TSMC, one of the few companies left in the business, has announced their new aggressive roadmap going into the future. While they’ve just got their 10nm about ready to go, the Taiwanese firm is letting everyone know that they will be ready to take orders for their 7nm process as early as April 2017.

With GPUs and CPUs still using the 14nm or 16nm nodes right now, this announcement is big news coming so soon. It’s quite surprising to see 7nm follow so soon after 10nm arrives since most companies tend to stay on a process node for a while to recoup their investment before going moving on. Of course, the 7nm production will just be trial production for now, with mass production to follow later.

The caveat is how much of the nm is marketing and what is the real size of the transistors. As we know, Samsung/Global Foundries, Intel, and TSMC all use different measures to determine the “nm”, with Intel being the smallest, Samsung next, with TSMC just slightly larger than that. Given past history, I expect the 7nm process to be comparable to Intel 10nm so Intel should still hold a lead. With progress being ever more difficult, the gap between the foundries is narrowing.

Compared to the current 16nm process, we’re going to be seeing upwards of 50% increase in density as well over 50% increase in performance. Generally, moving to FinFETs reduces clock speeds for the first node so it will be interesting to see where the performance ends on. AMD is also planning a lot of 7nm products so it will race between TSMC and Global Foundries to see who gets to 7nm mass production first. TSMC of course, will likely be building Apple SoCs first on 7nm, so everyone else will have to get in line.

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