TSMC plans a new factory to pump out tomorrow's 3 nm chips

The $16 billion facility may start production as early as 2022.

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David Lumb
December 8, 2016 10:11 PM
In this article: apple, chip, gadgetry, gadgets, gear, iphone, processor
sarawuth702 / Getty Images
sarawuth702 / Getty Images

News leaked in late August that chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and Apple were working shrinking the A11 processor set to go in next year's iPhone down to 10nm. But to ensure it stays in business with the tech titan and other device manufacturers, TSMC is planning to build a new plant to build future chips at 5nm and 3nm sizes.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, TSMC announced the new $15.7 billion facility a day after Taiwan's minister of science and technology, Yang Hung-duen, told local media about it. His ministry might select a site in Kaohsiung for the factory, which could start production as early as 2022.

That gives TSMC's competitors a few years' breathing room, but the race to smaller and smaller chips continues. While Intel claims it will produce a 10nm processor before its competitors, it conceded that production facilities equipped to pump out increasingly-smaller chips will only get more expensive. That's why the company is slowing its two-year cycle "tick-tock" innovation cycle to reduce chip size every three years instead, focusing instead of improving internal architecture and performance in the interim.

But even that lead might not be enough: On a conference call back in January, TSMC said it has a plan to push out 7nm chips by 2017 and 5nm by 2020.

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