Apple chipmaker receives approval for next-gen 2-nanometer factory


TSMC 7nm processor
Coming soon(ish) to an iPhone near you.
Photo: TSMC

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the semiconductor company that builds the A-series and M-series chips for Apple, has received approval for its most advanced chip plant to date.

According to a report by Nikkei Asia, the factory — located in Hsinchu, Taiwan — will be dedicated to building next-generation 2-nanometer chips. The iPhone 12, by comparison, features an A14 chip made using the 5nm process. The smaller the number of nanometers, the more transistors can be fitted onto a piece of silicon. That typically means more powerful chips.

The Nikkei report notes that:

“The Environmental Review Committee, a cross government and academic environmental regulatory body, approved the plan on Wednesday. This clears the way for TSMC to start construction of the facility in early 2022, and begin installing production equipment by 2023, sources familiar with the plan told Nikkei Asia.

‘Semiconductor is one of the most crucial industries to Taiwan’s economic growth,’ Economics Vice Minister Lin Chuan-neng said at the environmental review committee meeting. ‘The government will help TSMC to achieve its environmental targets while continuing to build the advanced technologies.'”

TSMC: The next generation

This isn’t the only new chip facility TSMC is currently building. It’s also constructing a chip facility in Arizona, dedicated to 5nm chips. In addition, it is expanding its facilities in China, and considering new facilities in Japan and Germany as well.

It’s not clear when 2nm chips will be ready for prime time. This year’s iPhone 13 is expected to boast an A-series chip manufactured with the same 5nm process as last year’s iPhone 12. After this will come an iPhone featuring chips made using the 4nm or 3nm production process. Use of 2nm chips would presumably follow at least a couple of years after that. In other words, this is probably about half a decade away.

What do you think of TSMC’s plans? Do you think it will continue to maintain its competitive edge over chipmaking rivals? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Nikkei Asia