TSMC announces plans for 10nm, 16nm tech
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) revealed its plans to release a compact, low-power version of its 16nm FinFET process and shared its road map for smaller process nodes. It will start volume production of its 16nm FinFET Plus (16FF+) in the middle of 2015 and will begin construction of a new 10nm fab next year.
TSMC claims the chips made using FinFET Plus have 10 per cent better performance than competing silicon, consume 50 per cent less power than a 20nm SoC, and have a cycle time twice that of 20nm chips.
The foundry will have more than 50 tape-outs by year’s end, covering applications processors, GPUs, automotive and network processors, said TSMC president and co-CEO Mark Liu.
“We are in a critical juncture; today we not only have to drive the growth of our respective companies, but drive the search for new companies that didn’t exist before,” said Liu. “Our consumer product cycle hasn’t changed much. What has changed is the cadence of product design and tech development. More and more work must be accomplished in the same time frame.”
Liu added that TSMC has collaborated with ARM on a Cortex-A72 that leverages the 16FF+ to achieve 3.5x better performance than a Cortex A-15 while consuming 75 per cent less power. TSMC and ARM will continue to collaborate on next generation process nodes, he added.
The company also developed a compact version of its 16nm FinFET process, called 16FFC, for mid-to-low-end smartphones, consumer products and wearables. The process reduces power consumption more than 50 per cent to 0.55V and product tapeouts are expected in 2H16.
“In terms of the 16FF and 16FF+, there have been some significant challenges with cost and we projected that cost per gate would go up,” International Business Solutions CEO Handel Jones stated. “I think they acknowledged it now with the 16FFC. The 16FFC will have some good traction especially when they have the low-power version.”
TSMC has long been engaged in a 16/14nm FinFET node battle with Samsung, TSMC’s 16nm is similar to other 14nm offerings, and the Korean chip giant announced that it will have a 14nm chip in its Galaxy S6 at Mobile World Congress. While TSMC officials declined to comment on competition, the victor will be determined by chip volume.