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TSMC Introduces New N4P 5nm Manufacturing Process

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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, aka TSMC, has announced an upgrade to its N4 line of 5nm (nanometer) manufacturing process. Called the N4P, the new process node is the “third major enhancement” of the company’s 5nm family. It brings an 11 percent performance boost over the original N5 5nm technology, and a six percent boost over the previous enhancement, the N4.

The N4P process node is also significantly more power-efficient than the N5. TSMC claims a 22 percent improvement in power efficiency. The latest enhancement further introduces a six percent improvement in transistor density.

TSMC says N4P will enable easier migration of 5nm-based products. Customers will be able to deliver faster and more power-efficient successors to their N5 products and maximize their investment. According to the company, the first batch of N4P-based products will hit the market in the second half of 2022.

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“N4P lowers process complexity and improves wafer cycle time by reducing the number of masks,” the company said in a press release. It “demonstrates TSMC’s pursuit and investment in continuous improvement of our process technologies. With N5, N4, N3 and the latest addition of N4P, TSMC customers will have multiple and compelling choices for power, performance, area, and cost for its (sic) products.”

TSMC announces new 5nm process while its 3nm technology is delayed

In August, reports emerged that TSMC is delaying the development, and effectively, production of its 3nm process node. The reason for this delay was not clear but the ongoing global semiconductor chip shortage could be the culprit here. We are yet to have an update on this, which could mean that the plans remain delayed.

Meanwhile, the Taiwanese giant, which is the world’s largest contract chip manufacturing company, is going ahead with its 4nm roadmap and also introducing improvements to its 5nm process nodes. TSMC will most likely manufacture compatriot MediaTek’s upcoming Dimensity 2000 SoC. MediaTek is aiming to launch the world’s first 4nm smartphone chip.

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Samsung and Qualcomm are also moving onto the 4nm technology this year though, or at least early next year. The Korean giant will reportedly manufacture Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 898 as well (the American has a fabless model).

Meanwhile, the tech world is facing an unprecedented chip shortage globally. The US Department of Commerce has recently asked all the biggest stakeholders in the chip industry to share information on their respective supply chains to try and find a resolution for this problem. Companies need to voluntarily turn in the requested information before November 8th. It remains to be seen whether the tech industry manages to overcome this issue anytime soon.