Reports have surfaced recently saying that TSMC's 10 nanometer manufacturing processes for mobile CPUs are falling behind schedule and resulting in lower than expected yields, but TSMC has come forward personally to say that is not the case, and their 10 nanometer manufacturing is producing the expected yield at the expected pace. Reports had even gone as far as to suggest that TSMC missing their target in 10 nanometer manufacturing may cause significant delays with customer products, like new phones an tablets. According to TSMC, not only is the 10 nanometer lineup fully in step with expectations, but it stands to actually begin contributing to their bottom line as soon as the first quarter of 2017.
TSMC's senior director of corporate communications, Elizabeth Sun, said that the company's 10 nanometer process will only account for roughly 1% of their total revenue when it first hits the spreadsheet in the initial quarter of 2017. This is due in part to Samsung securing the manufacturing contract for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 mobile processor, which will be based on Samsung's 10 nanometer process. Qualcomm tends to go with Samsung for their processor manufacturing, but TSMC reportedly snatched up the contract for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 830 because of Samsung's own delays, and is in the running for scoring other contracts in their race against Samsung and Intel, and rumors are floating around that they may get the contract from Apple to manufacture the chip for the newest version of the popular iPad tablet.
These developments fit nicely within the business plan for 2017 that TSMC came up with regarding 10 nanometer manufacturing. Reportedly, their plan was to use 2017 as a transition period, phasing out their 16 nanometer lineup entirely to make way for 10 nanometer products. Going beyond 10 nanometer manufacturing, TSMC plans to reach 3 nanometer manufacturing by 2022, with 7 nanometer manufacturing beginning in 2017 as a stepping stone, and moving to 5 nanometer processes in 2019 and onward. With the ability to shrink the die in a conventional manner steadily heading towards a plateau, movers and shakers in the industry have been working on more unconventional chip geometry to allow more components to fit on a smaller die, as well as to allow further die shrinking even as component sizes plateau. This is the track that TSMC will be taking toward 3 nanometer chip manufacturing.