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A new TSMC Alliance is working on advanced Lithography for next-gen 2nm chips and Beyond


In a major development, TSMC, Nvidia, Synopsys and ASML have agreed to cooperate for the development of 2nm chip technology and beyond.

In the last week, Apple's chip supplier TSMC announced that it is speeding up the development of its 2nm or more advanced technology for a state-of-the-art foundry process in tandem with Nvidia, Synopsys, and ASML. These companies decided to strengthen cooperation in the field of lithography, which is the process of engraving circuit patterns on silicon wafers.

U.S.-based Synopsis will support the project by providing software programs as an electronic design automation (EDA) company. Netherlands-based ASML will be in charge of manufacturing and supplying extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography equipment priced between 300 and 500 billion won (US$230 to 385 million).

2 nvidia home page announcement

In particular, technology to be provided by Nvidia is drawing much attention. It is evaluated that Nvidia’s accelerated computing technology is vital to TSMC’s 2nm technology development.

On March 21, Nvidia announced on its homepage the news of supporting 2nm technology development while working with TSMC, ASML, and Synopsys. A library technology called “cuLitho” can implement related work with up to 40 times better performance than those of conventional lithography technology, Nvidia explained.

“Semiconductor lithography technology has physically reached its limits,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang. “This partnership will enable semiconductor manufacturing plants (fabs) to increase production while reducing carbon emissions. At the same time, it will lay the groundwork for developing 2 nm or smaller advanced technology.”

The cooperation of these top-tier companies in the semiconductor industry will contribute to the development of TSMC’s 2nm or less process. "This development will make an important contribution to the steady miniaturization of semiconductors," said Wei Zhe-jia, president of TSMC. 

TSMC is accelerating not only the development of 2nm technology, but direct production of 2nm chips. Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) recently reported that TSMC had begun the construction of a new plant to produce 2 nm chips in Hsinchu called “Taiwan’s Silicon Valley.”

TSMC has decided to build four new factories. This means at least US$60 billion will be invested. This will do down in TSMC’s history as its largest single project. The plants will mass-produce chips beginning in 2025 at the earliest.

TSMC began mass production of 3nm products last December and have mapped out a plan to break ground for a 1nm plant in the Longtan Science Park in Taoyuan in the north region of Taiwan in 2026 at the earliest, pilot production in 2027, and mass-production in 2028. 

The key statement from TSMC is that "This development will make an important contribution to the steady miniaturization of semiconductors." This suggests that the newly advanced lithography technology will not only apply to HPC markets, where NVIDIA will apply it, but rather generally to all 2nm and 1nm chips from TSMC that Apple will be able to tap into.  

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