Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, has decided to slow down its 3-nanometer chip production as Intel Corp, one of its major customers, plans to push back the launch of its new Meteor Lake tGPU chipsets to the end of next year, market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday.
That means Intel has canceled almost all of the 3-nanometer capacity booked for next year, with only a small amount of wafer input remaining for engineering verification, the Taipei-based researcher said in a report.
Based on Intel’s original schedule, TSMC was to start producing the new chipsets in the second half of this year using its 3-nanometer technology, which would be the most advanced technology in global chip production, TrendForce said.
Photo: Cheng I-hwa, Bloomberg
Issues linked to product design and process verification can be blamed for the delay, it said.
The postponement would severely affect TSMC’s plan to ramp up 3-nanometer chips, as it leaves Apple Inc as the only customer for the technology in the next one-and-a-half years, the researcher said.
Apple plans to adopt the 3-nanometer technology for its M-series processors and A17 Bionic chip, it said.
TSMC has said that it planned to start mass production of 3-nanometer chips in the second half of this year. The chips would be used in high-performance-computing (HPC)and smartphone applications, it said.
To avoid booking hefty depreciation and amortization costs for new 3-nanometer equipment and idled capacity, TSMC has notified its equipment suppliers about the order adjustments for next year, it said.
The order cuts could lead to a reduction in capital spending for next year, compared with this year’s record US$40 billion, given that 3-nanometer equipment is costly, it said.
TrendForce said TSMC should expect a slower revenue growth than expected. The company last month raised its sales growth forecast for this year to 35 percent.
However, 2024 could be a good year for TSMC’s sales and factory utilization, TrendForce said.
Major customers for TSMC’s advanced technology, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc, MediaTek Inc (聯發科) and Qualcomm Inc, are to use the 3-nanometer process technology in 2024 for their cutting-edge chips, while Apple is to fully adopt 3-nanometer chips for its new iPhone series, it said.
In addition, TSMC might see an additional revenue boost from Intel, which could outsource production of its computing tiles to TSMC if its Intel 4 process technology development stagnates, the researcher said.
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