In this week’s quarterly earnings conference call, TSMC revealed that the company expects that most of its 7nm “N7” process customers will eventually transition to its upcoming 6nm “N6” process manufacturing node. The upcoming “N6” process node will use the same design rules as the “N7” node, making it easier for customers to switch to newer, denser nodes. Moreover, if TSMC’s predictions come true, N6 will undoubtedly become TSMC’s next widely used, long-term service process node.
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TSMC 6nm process in the works!
Earlier, it was reported that TSMC’s N6 process technology uses extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) to reduce manufacturing complexity by reducing the number of exposures required for multi-patterning. This leak is currently not confirmed because TSMC’s N7 uses only DUV lithography. TSMC did not specify how many layers of EUVL were used on N7+ or N6, but it has been shown that the latter adds an additional EUVL layer compared to the former.
Although TSMC’s N6 uses new production equipment and transistor density is 18% higher than N7 manufacturing technology, the N6 uses the same design rules as the N7. This enables chip designers to reuse the same design ecosystem (eg tools, etc.). It will also enable them to reduce development costs. In contrast, the N7+ uses different design rules, but it offers more advantages than N6 process.
TSMC 6nm expected roadmap!
Although TSMC’s partners have adopted both N7 and N7+ processes, and the world’s largest chip contract manufacturers expect these two technologies to account for more than 25% of their wafer revenue in 2019. The former seems to be more affected than the latter. At the same time, TSMC expects most customers who use N7 today to switch to N6 and then turn to N5 to skip N7+. Given the popularity of the N7, the N6 may also be very popular.
So what do you think? We have already seen 7nm chips in the latest iPhones. Will TSMC be able to bring 6nm to the forefront sooner than imaginable? Do let us know in the comments section below!
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