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TSMC to make ultra-advanced 2nm chips by 2025

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. says it will begin production of ultra-advanced 2 nanometer chips by 2025, putting fresh attention on the race to develop cutting-edge semiconductor technologies following similar announcements by Samsung Electronics and Intel.

TSMC made its announcement at an industry event on Thursday in the U.S., its first in-person tech symposium in two years. The Taiwanese chip titan said its 2nm tech will be based on “nanosheet transistor architecture” to deliver significant improvements in performance and power efficiency. Nanosheet architecture is a completely different infrastructure from the Finfet infrastructure used for 5nm chips, currently the most advanced on the market. Such new tech requires massive investments to make available.

This is the first time TSMC has specifically pinned down a schedule for its 2nm chip production. The chipmaking titan currently is gearing up to introduce the 3nm chip production technology in the second half of this year. The key production site is in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan.

TSMC’s announcement comes as its major industry competitors have laid out similar roadmaps. Samsung says it will begin producing 2nm chips by 2025, while Intel is aiming to manufacture even more advanced chips by late 2024. Japan is also said to be working with the U.S. on 2nm chip technology manufacturing, to be deployed by 2025.

Intel has pledged to regain chip manufacturing tech leadership by 2025. The company first disclosed its 1.8nm technology — what it calls 18A technology — in mid-2021. This year, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said this tech is “six months ahead of schedule” and pushed ahead the timetable to the end of 2024.

Samsung said in April that it will produce 3nm chips by the end of June this year.

The smaller the number, the more advanced the chip, but it is also more challenging to squeeze more transistors onto the tiny chips. The timeframe and capability of mass producing the cutting-edge chips is an indication of the technological prowess of chipmakers.

Currently, only TSMC, Intel and Samsung are capable of pursuing such cutting-edge chip production technologies. China’s chipmaking champion Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. has the ambition to do so, but it is blacklisted by Washington, which has blocked its access to critical chip production equipment — essential tools for developing advanced chip manufacturing technologies.

Analysts say that the battle shows Samsung and Intel are challenging TSMC’s leadership in the leading-edge technology.

“It’s a market where TSMC has dominated. Now, Samsung is making its efforts [to catch up]. For Intel, it is not guaranteed that the company could do this, because it’s not the company it was in the past,” said Lee Seung-woo, a senior analyst at Eugene Investment in Seoul. “I am sure the market will expand further, and the giants will compete fiercely over it.” Nikkei.Asia

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