Forget 5nm, TSMC already has its eyes on 2nm chips
But semiconductor manufacturers are never satisfied and keep breaking down barriers to bring us even smaller and more powerful chips. At the nanometer scale we’re at now, things are getting very complicated. Production methods that worked before can be used no longer and new ones have to be developed.
That’s exactly what TSMC is doing right now, as reported by DigiTimes. According to TSMC's latest annual report, the company has begun its research and development efforts towards the 2nm process in 2019, and preliminary studies regarding nodes even smaller than that are underway as well.
If you haven’t been following the developments on the nanometer front, currently, the best smartphone chips are built using the 7nm process. The first ones using the 5nm process are expected later this year (likely Apple’s A14 chip for the new iPhones). After that will come the 3nm one, targeted for 2022-2023, and hopefully, around 2025, we’ll see the first 2nm chips on the market.
In nanometers, the difference is small, but we should look at what it means for transistor density. A 7nm chip can fit 2 times more transistors on the same die as a 14nm one, but a 2nm one will be able to fit 3.5 times more than a 7nm one!
Chips that powerful and that energy-efficient will open up a whole new set of functions our phones will be able to perform. And while that future is still a few years away, it’s steadily coming and it’s exciting!