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TSMC, Samsung, Intel vie in advanced semiconductor processes

The world’s largest foundry (semiconductor contract manufacturing) company, Taiwan’s TSMC, has ignited the competition in ultra-fine processes among Samsung Electronics and Intel by announcing plans for 1.6-nanometer (nm) mass production in 2026.

According to industry sources and foreign media reports on April 25, TSMC officially announced at a technology symposium held in Santa Clara, California, in the U.S., on April 24 (local time) that it will begin 1.6-nm processes in the second half of 2026.

This is the first time TSMC has formalized its 1.6-nm process plan. Previously, TSMC had announced its plans for 2-nm mass production in 2025 and 1.4-nm in 2027.

Samsung Electronics also has plans for 2-nm production in 2025 and 1.4-nm in 2027, but it has not yet announced plans for a 1.6-nm process. Samsung intends to start mass production with a 2-nm process focused on mobile devices in 2025, gradually expanding applications to high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) by 2027, and starting mass production of the 1.4-nm process in 2027.

TSMC’s 1.6-nm announcement is interpreted as a response to recent moves by Intel, which recently announced its intention to start mass production of 1.8-nm processes.

Intel recently announced its next-generation foundry process, 18A (1.8-nm), expected to go into mass production by the end of this year, and it has secured Microsoft as a major customer, drawing attention.

Notably, Intel completed the introduction of high-NA (High-NA, high numerical aperture) EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography equipment, which is essential for advanced foundry processes, ahead of competitors TSMC and Samsung Electronics.

High-NA EUV, produced by the Dutch company ASML, is known to be crucial for the development of next-generation 2-nanometer processes. Intel was the first in the industry to acquire this equipment and plans to use it in developing its advanced process road map through several adjustment phases.

Intel plans to use the next-generation EUV along with existing EUV equipment for advanced chip development and manufacturing, starting with product validation for Intel 18A in 2025, leading to Intel 14A production.

Regarding this, TSMC stated that it developed the A16 chip manufacturing process faster than expected due to the endless demand from AI chip companies like Nvidia, and it was reported that it stated that the next-generation EUV high-NA from ASML would not be needed. Business Korea

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