Rumor: TSMC could cut 3 nm wafer prices to allow for orders from big clients like AMD and Nvidia
TSMC is well on track to begin mass production on its 3 nm N3E nodes this year, yet the Taiwanese foundries have not yet received orders from too many clients. Up until now, only Apple and Broadcom secured 3 nm orders, and industry sources claim that some important TSMC clients like Qualcomm and MediaTek might not opt to use 3 nm technology because of the high production costs that exceed US$20,000 per 12-inch wafer. TSMC justified the price hikes as it needed to abandon the initial N3 nodes with low yields that could not even reach 50%, and quickly implement a more refined N3E process with better yields. However, industry sources cited by Mydrivers.com are now suggesting that the production prices seem way too high even for AMD and Nvidia and TSMC could consider lowering the prices to allow for more clients to place orders.
Reduced prices for the 3 nm wafers should enable Qualcomm and MediaTek to release new flagship mobile SoCs with the latest TSMC technologies in late 2023 rather than continue to use N4P nodes. This way, the two companies will be able to provide competitive alternatives to Apple’s A17 Bionic SoCs that are also built with 3 nm technology. AMD and Nvidia usually have a 2-year cycle for their products, so a jump to 3 nm is not actually needed this year since the Zen 5 / RDNA 4 and RTX 5000-series are expected to launch in 2024.
Nevertheless, Team Red and Team Green could finalize the 3 nm designs this year and essentially get more time to work out eventual flaws to ensure smoother product launches without power or cooling issues. While Nvidia is using the superior N4 process for the RTX 4000-series, AMD is combining N6 with N5 for its current Ryzen 7000 and Radeon RX 7000 products. Zen 5 and RDNA 4 are rumored to combine 4 nm tech with 3 nm, but we have yet to hear anything about Nvidia’s RTX 5000-series process node. Seeing how Team Green likes to jump ships whenever there are problems with TSMC production prices, it might not be too surprising to find out that the RTX 5000-series employs Samsung’s 3 nm tech.
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