Next-gen electronics could be a lot more expensive as TSMC's 3 nm wafers cost US$20,000 apiece
Nvidia head honcho Jensen cited rising foundry costs as one of the main reasons for the company's egregious graphics card prices. Prices of semiconductor wafers have skyrocketed over the past few years, in part, due to the complexity associated with manufacturing and TSMC's hegemony in the market. High-end consumer products slated for a 2023 launch will get even more expensive, according to a new report from Digitimes.
The cost for one 3 nm TSMC wafer is supposedly US$20,000, double the price of 7 nm wafers in 2018. Retired Engineer over on Twitter had heard murmurs the amount could be even higher. This is likely for wafers manufactured on TSMC's N3E node, a power-efficient version of the now-doomed N3 node. While the price increase might not be apparent immediately, one can expect to see it in the coming quarters, primarily because most current-generation semiconductors are still on TSMC's N5 family (N5P, N4, N4E, N4X, 4N).
Many industry bigwigs such as Nvidia, Qualcomm, Apple and MediaTek have called dibs on TSMC's production capacity in 2023 and 2024. Some of the affected products could include smartphones powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, MediaTek Dimensity 10,000 (tentative), iPhones powered by the A17 Bionic, Apple M3 MacBooks and Ryzen 9000 processors. High prices plus limited capacity could also force some companies to stick to the N5 family for a generation or two more than they intended.
Digitimes adds that Samsung's inability to keep up with TSMC in the market is also a factor for the sky-high prices. Yields for its 3 nm GAA process continue to be sub-par, and there's no indication if that'll improve anytime soon. Twitter leaker RGCloudS says yields are expected to reach 70% by April 2023. While that isn't nearly as good as TSMC, some more improvement could make Samsung competitive again, maybe enough for it to woo back Qualcomm and Nvidia.