TSMC’s 3nm fab construction complete, will be providing chips in 2022

New GPUs could feature almost 80 billion transistors

The world’s largest and best chip foundry, TSMC, or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has completed the construction of its latest semiconductor fabrication plant in central Taiwan. The firm held a traditional topping-out ceremony at the factory location, in Tainan’s Southern Taiwan Science Park. The plant sits on 35 hectares of land and boasts over 160,000 square meters of cleanroom area – approximately equivalent to 22 football pitches. TSMC has confirmed its 3nm production node is on track for full mass production in the second half of 2022. TSMC believes its 3nm node will pack in somewhere between 250 million transistors per square millimetre of silicon, to almost 300 million transistors per square millimeter of silicon, making it at least two and half times more dense than Intel’s latest 10nm node. Theoretically, TSMC’s 3nm tech could produce a GPU three times more complex than AMD’s current gen Radeon RX 6000 Series chips.

TSMC 3nm packs a punch!

TSMC provides chips for AMD’s Ryzen CPUs and Radeon GPUs including other companies like Nvidia, Huawei and Apple. Advancements in tech like node shrinking from 7nm to 5nm to 3nm are worth it as it allows for more complex and faster CPUs and GPUs.

Intel’s 10nm chip produces roughly around 100 million transistors per square millimeter, whereas TSMC’s completely refined 7nm process produces say 113 million transistors per square millimetre. But TSMC is promising around 250 million transistors per square millimetre for it’s 3nm node, and this number could actually be higher, and reach almost 300 million transistors per square millimeter which means that in late 2022, TSMC will have the capability of producing chips somewhere between 2.5x and 3x as dense as the 7nm tech used for current AMD CPUs and graphics chips. With a density of 250 million transistors per square millimeter, it can be used to either make chips with existing complexity much smaller and thus a little cheaper, or enable much more complex designs. Such is the way with computer chips, so long as TSMC keeps developing new nodes.

AMD’s 6800XT on 3nm would be a power packed beast!

The current AMD Navi GPU, 6800XT currently clocks at around 27 billion transistors. If the same GPU were to be based on TSMC’s 3nm node, it would be packed with nothing short of 80 billion transistors. AMD doesn’t always use TSMC’s latest production tech. TSMC is already producing chips for Apple’s iPhones on its new 5nm node, which packs around 173 million transistors per square millimetre, but AMD is still working out designs on the 7nm node today with their Ryzen 5000 series CPUs and Radeon 6000 series GPUs. AMD stated that their Zen4 CPUs as well as their RDNA3 GPUs will be based on the 5nm process node. So we won’t expect a 3nm AMD CPU by 2020 and an 80 billion transistor GPU by 2022 too wouldn’t be possible, but we are sure to expect it before 2025!

AMD Ryzen 6800XT reference GPU

Meanwhile, Intel’s 7nm node has been pushed out to at least late 2022, and probably won’t be seen until 2023 or later. Intel 7nm is estimated to deliver around 200 to 250 million transistors per square millimetre. So that falls somewhere in between TSMC’s 7nm and 5nm nodes in density.

Finally, Samsung which is TSMC’s biggest competitor in chip manufacturing recently announced plans to close the gap to TSMC with its own 3nm in the second half of 2022.

Kiran Fernandes

Kiran is your friendly neighbourhood tech enthusiast who's passionate about all kinds of tech, goes crazy over 4G and 5G networks, and has recently sparked an interest in sci-fi and cosmology.

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