TSMC starts building 3nm plant in Taiwan worth $20B

Taiwan-based TSMC has begun building a 3nm fabrication facility for chips that likely will run in future iPhones.
Taiwan-based TSMC has begun building a 3nm fabrication facility for chips that likely will run in future iPhones. (TSMC)

TSMC, a big fab for Apple and AMD, has started construction on a 3nm fabrication facility in Taiwan after purchasing the land earlier, according to reports by local outlets.

The chips built on the 3nm process would begin shipping in 2022 or early 2023, after TSMC scales up its 5nm production in 2020, according to the industry web site Feng.com and others.

TSMC is expected to spend nearly $20 billion on the 3nm building and equipment. Many processors for PCs and smartphones are now based on a 7nm process at TSMC facilities. The new Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, announced Sept. 10, run on the Apple A13 processor which was built on TSMC’s 7nm process.

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The A13 is designed by Apple and relies on an ARM architecture.  It contains 8.5 billion transistors. Up to one-fourth of TSMC revenues are from Apple alone.  A 3nm process would allow 4 billion more processors on an 85 mm chip.

RELATED: Apple's three new iPhones: no 5G but a powerful new A13 chip

There are conflicting reports that the U.S. has asked Taiwan to restrict TSMC from producing chips for Huawei in China because of potential security threats from products made that way. The Financial Times reported that effort quoting an unnamed official. However, Bloomberg later quoted a Taiwan cabinet spokeswoman saying that Taiwan has not received any request from the U.S. government to top TSMC from supplying Huawei. TSCM didn’t respond to a request to comment.

RELATED: Apple orders production of 10% more lower-cost iPhone 11s

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