Report suggests AMD's upcoming Zen 4 CPUs will be built on an exclusive TSMC 5 nm enhanced node
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AMD is expected to launch its desktop Ryzen 4000 CPU lineup based on the refined 7 nm Zen 3 microarchitecture later this year, with estimated IPC gains of around 10-15% per thread over the current Zen 2 chips. The jump to 5 nm should occur in 2021 with the introduction of Zen 4 chips, but, according to a recent Chinese report posted on Chainnews.com, AMD has already secured 5 nm production allocations at TSMC. Team red apparently asked the Taiwanese foundries to develop an enhanced 5 nm node that will only be used to manufacture the upcoming Zen 4 CPUs.
The report mentions that AMD secured production for 20,000 12-inch 5 nm wafers per month starting with the second quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, Huawei was forced to port many of its 7 nm orders to the Chinese-based SMIC foundries, so TSMC is now able to take more 7 nm orders from Nvidia and AMD, keeping its 7 nm production capacity fully tapped. It is interesting to point out that this piece of news may actually confirm that Nvidia’s upcoming Ampere GPUs are based on 7 nm tech rather than 10 nm tech, as previously rumored.
Up until now, it looks like the pandemic has barely affected TSMC’s plans, as the 5 nm node is still expected to go online this second quarter and production will gradually ramp up towards the end of the year. However, advancements with the 3 nm node may have been rescheduled for later dates, so TSMC needs to postpone the installation of the 3 nm trial production line at the Zhuke 12 and Nanke 18 plants from June to December. This means that 3 nm risk production could be pushed to the first half of 2021, and commercial production may be further delayed until late 2022. Apparently, Apple intended to push TSMC in order to release the 3 nm tech in time for the 2021 A15 Bionic SoCs, but the projected impact of the pandemic forced the company to postpone all related plans.