On Monday, leading chip manufacturer TSMC started pre-production operations on its 2nm process, according to Taiwan-based media outlet Economic Daily News. Sources revealed that the chip maker will use an advanced AI system to improve energy efficiency and accelerate efficiency. Apple and Nvidia are expected to be among the first batch of customers for the Taiwan-headquartered company’s 2nm production, putting significant pressure on its competitors such as Samsung.

TSMC did not comment on specific details in response to the report, but stated that the development of 2nm technology is progressing well and aims to hit mass production by 2025.

Why it matters: TSMC’s 2nm plan could bring it into head on competition with Samsung. Samsung, which beat TSMC to be the first chip manufacturer to widely employ 3nm processes, also announced last year that it expects to have 2nm chips in mass production by 2025.

Details: According to the report, TSMC is estimated to begin test producing hundreds of 2nm chips this year, laying the foundation for mass production in 2025. The 2nm production base will be established at TSMC’s Fab 20 at Hsinchu Science Park, with subsequent expansion to Taichung Science Park, encompassing a total of six phases of engineering. 

  • TSMC has already begun to dispatch engineers to the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park for the 2nm process, building a research and development team of over 1,000 employees, according to Economic Daily News. 
  • In the initial stages, TSMC will set up a small trial-production line at its Hsinchu headquarters, with a target of taping out around 1,000 2nm chip pieces by the end of this year, the report said. 
  • On April 26, TSMC showcased its latest technology developments at its 2023 North America Technology Symposium, including in the fields of 3nm and 2nm technology. 
  • The 2nm process will be the first process node at TSMC to employ gate-all-around (GAA) transistors, nanosheet transistors which TSMC says will boost performance, energy efficiency, and transistor densities. The company claims this will offer an improvement in speed of up to 15% over 3nm at the same power, and up to 30% power reduction at the same speed.
  • Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang previously said at GTC 2023 that TSMC will bring the AI system that Nvidia and TSMC and other partners worked on into 2nm trial production this June. The system promises a computation time that is 1/40th of its predecessor.

Context: Samsung expects to have 2nm chips in mass production by 2025 and plans to deliver mass production using a 1.4nm process by 2027.

  • TSMC reported record revenue for 2022 of NT$2.26 trillion ($74.25 billion), a rise of 42.6% from 2021. It was the first time the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer reached NT$2 trillion in revenue for a year.
  • The Apple iPhone 15 Pro will be powered by the A17 Bionic chip based on TSMC’s 3nm technology, according to product review site Tom’s Guide. The chip is also expected to debut in this year’s upcoming MacBook models.

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: jessie.wu@technode.com.