While the majority of people out there might not know who, or more accurately what TSMC is, the Taiwanese firm is responsible for producing the silicon that keeps our smartphones and tablets running, and the firm is very much an important part of the supply chain that ends with our smartphones and tablets. Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) is the firm that's responsible for producing much of the processors from Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Apple as the firm produces chips for companies that do not own their own fabrication facilities. As such, TSMC is the name that keeps those Snapdragons on their way to your next smartphone or tablet. So, when TSMC starts trialing new production techniques, it can mean big news for the wider industry, and perhaps lead to better devices across the board.
Mobile processors have been steadily getting smaller over the past few years, and when these processors get smaller, it gives the manufacturer more room inside of the smartphone for a larger battery, other features such as the Quad DACs inside of the LG V20 and so on. For the past couple of years, the majority of high-end processors have been manufactured using a 14nm process, which is a very small die size, and results in less heat generated and better battery life as it draws less power. Now, in a recent roadmap revealed by TSMC themselves, the 10nm process will start to be used in some orders before the end of the year, and the even smaller 7nm process will be trialed next year. Why all of this matters is that a 10nm FinFET manufacturing process can deliver as much as 50 percent in increased performance alongside a 40 percent reduction in power consumption. This is all exciting news, especially given the relative lack of innovation that is happening in battery technology right now. So far, MediaTek's upcoming Helio X30 is one of the only chips that could be made using the new 10nm FinFET process.
The 7nm process however, which is to be tested next year, is where things get really exciting, at least in terms of processor die size, that is. Using a 7nm die size, the Snapdragon and Tegra processors of the future could be a lot more power-efficient, generate a lot less heat and lead to even bigger jumps in performance. If smartphones were already marvels of technology, these smaller and smaller processors will only go to help take things even further.