TSMC aims to double its 3nm production in 2024, improve yield

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Taiwanese semiconductor behemoth TSMC appears well-prepared to strengthen its lead in the foundry market. The firm reportedly plans to nearly double its 3nm production volume in 2024 compared to 2023. It is also in the process of improving the 3nm yield rate to over 80%.

TSMC is working on improving 3nm yield and production volume

TSMC started 3nm mass production after Samsung but went on to commercially produce the first 3nm smartphone processor ahead of its foundry rival. The company manufactured Apple’s A17 Pro chip used in the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Samsung has yet to produce 3nm smartphone chips, with its initial production limited to other use cases such as cryptocurrency mining.

The Korean firm is said to be struggling with yield rates, a measure of the usable chips produced from a wafer. TSMC also has a poor 3nm yield rate compared to previous-gen solutions, but not as poor as Samsung. More importantly, according to X tipster Revegnus, who cited a DigiTimes report, the Taiwanese firm is working towards improving the yield rate to over 80% this year.

If it manages to do that, its production capacity will increase instantly. The publication reports that a higher 3nm yield rate, coupled with other foundry improvements, could enable TSMC to nearly double its production volume this year. Along with Apple, the firm may also manufacture 3nm smartphone chips for MediaTek. It might have landed contracts from companies in other tech sectors too.

This report comes right on the heels of TSMC announcing its second wafer fab in Japan. The company will construct the new factory through Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM) as part of a joint venture with its Japanese partners, which include Toyota Motors. TSMC reported a 22.4% month-on-month increase in revenue in January 2024, reaching NT$215.79 billion (approx. $6.9 billion).

Samsung is playing catch-up to its foundry rival

TSMC’s 3nm improvements are bad news for Samsung. The Korean firm has long played second fiddle to TSMC in the foundry market, with many big companies picking the latter’s fab over Samsung. Despite a headstart in the 3nm era, it failed to close the gap to its arch-rival. The Taiwanese behemoth appears to have already gained an advantage in 3nm mass production.

Samsung now aims to compete with TSMC in the 2nm space, the new report states. It has reportedly invited major clients to try its 2nm semiconductor fabrication process. Analysts still don’t appear optimistic about Samsung’s 2nm solution, though. It remains to be seen if the Korean firm can close the gap to TSMC in the 2nm era. Both companies plan to start 2nm mass production in 2025.

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