TSMC officially begins 5 nm production; Snapdragon 875 SoC, Snapdragon X60 5G modem, A14 Bionic, and a 5 nm AMD high-end GPU incoming
TSMC has apparently started production of 5nm chips in three nodes viz. 5 nm, 5 nm+, and enhanced 5 nm. Chinese site MyDrivers reports that Qualcomm's upcoming flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 875 along with the Snapdragon X60 5G modem will be fabbed on the 5 nm process and produced in TSMC's Nanke 18 plant. This is in confirmation with earlier reports that TSMC would be entering 5 nm production by mid-2020.
It is not yet known which 5 nm node has Qualcomm actually opted for. Reports say that TSMC's Nanke 18 plant has received 10% higher orders, which indicates anywhere between 6,000 to 10,000 5 nm wafer orders for a single month from Qualcomm. It is likely that Qualcomm wants to deliver both the Snapdragon 875 and the Snapdragon X60 modem on time as the X60 5G modem is also expected to make its way into the iPhone 12.
Unlike the Snapdragon 865, the 875 will have the X60 5G modem integrated on-die. TSMC is expected to deliver the new 5 nm Snapdragon 875 SoCs and X60 5G modems to Qualcomm some time in September, which should provide enough window for an expected December 2020 launch at the Snapdragon Summit. Phones powered the Snapdragon 875 are expected to be available only in 2021. This year, however, will see the availability of the Snapdragon 865 Plus with higher CPU and GPU clocks.
In addition to Qualcomm, AMD is also said to have proposed TSMC a contract for more than 20,000 orders a month for a high-end 5 nm GPU. While we know Zen 4 Raphael is slated to transition to an enhanced 5 nm node (recent reports say even Zen 3 Ryzen 4000 will be a 5 nm part), this is the first time we are hearing that AMD is looking to order 5 nm GPU wafers. Previous reports have pegged RDNA3 to be a 5 nm part, but that is only indicated for a 2022 release. NVIDIA is also expected to hop onto the 5 nm bandwagon with the Ampere successor, Hopper.
Apart from AMD, Apple will also use the enhanced 5 nm node for its A14 Bionic SoC that will feature in the upcoming iPhone 12.
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