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TSMC begins volume production of chips using 20nm process tech

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. on Thursday said it had begun mass production of chips using 20nm process technology ahead of its own schedule. The new fabrication process will help fabless chip designers (e.g., AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm, etc.) to create processors with higher transistor count, lower power consumption and improved performance.

TSMC’s 20nm technology (which the company calls CLN20SOC) is mainly designed for highly-integrated system-on-chip devices that benefit from increased transistor density. The fabrication technology relies on high-k metal gate technology that should ensure fairly high clock-rates of chips without increase of leakage currents. TSMC will offer only one version of the 20nm-class manufacturing process, which will help the company to ramp up volume production using the tech in a short period of time.

“We have two fabs, fab 12 and fab 14 that complete the core of the 20nm-SoC. As a matter of fact, we have started production. We are in the [high]-volume [20nm] production as we speak right now,” said C. C. Wei, co-chief executive officer and co-president of TSMC.

tsmc_semiconductor_fab14_production

At present, certain modules of TSMC’s fabs 12 and fab 16 are producing chips using 20nm process technology. The fab 15 modules 3 and 4 will initiate production using 20nm process tech sometimes in May, 2014.

While TSMC is tight-lipped regarding nature of chips it makes using 20nm fabrication process, last year it said that the first five 20nm products will be aimed at mobile computing, CPU and PLD [programmable logic device] segments.

TSMC expects wafers processed using 20nm process technologies to account for around 10 per cent of this year’s wafer revenue. In the fourth quarter the 20nm fabrication process is projected to account for 20 per cent of TSMC revenue.

KitGuru Says: TSMC remains the leader in process technologies among contract makers of semiconductors. It does not even matter whether 20nm CLN20SOC process technology be more or less advanced than GlobalFoundries’ 14nm-XM [extreme mobile] offering due later this year simply because TSMC’s 20nm production volumes will be unattainable by anyone in the foundry industry (Intel excluded) for quite a while.

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