back to article TSMC ramps up 3nm chip baking at Taiwan plants

Mass production of 3nm components has begun at TSMC's south Taiwan facilities, the silicon slinger announced on Thursday. The design is expected to deliver significant performance and efficiency improvements over TSMC's 5nm node, now widely deployed in Apple, Qualcomm and AMD products. The foundry operator claims its N3 …

  1. jezza99


    Much as I admire Taiwan as an independent, democratic country, it seems unwise for us to be so dependent on a country that Xi Jinping has stated he may invade at any time.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Risk?

      I do wonder if the risk to China is as great as it is to Taiwan. After all a few bags of flour can render a whole chip manufacturing facility for a long period - and I'd guess very fine sand could write it off completely in the sense that by the time you've rebuilt it its totally redundant and the people require to run it have drowned in rubber dinghys trying to get to silicon glen!

      A two or three year silicon drought due to Taiwan calling MAD on China would destroy China.

      And most of the West. Its some serious pissing in your chips. I'm not saying it wont happen but its something logic and 'common sense' is not going to stop.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Risk?

        You hugely overestimate the actual importance of cutting edge processors.

        In particular, they aren't a consumable, so everything already built just keeps running when you can't get them.

        People are not actually going to hurt if the phone supply is cut off - they will just use what they have.

        In reality, if you could blockade rice imports that would matter much more to China than 3nm CPUs

        Which probably partly explains why China is so keen on the South China sea and Taiwan in the first place.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Risk?

          3nm chips aren't vital to the people's army, but they are vital to the SP500 and so to its government.

          If China cuts off iPhone you are going to see sanctions that make Russia look like a family tiff.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: Risk?

            ... you are going to see sanctions that make Russia look like a family tiff.

            That topic was discussed briefly on "Correspondents' Look Ahead" on Radio 4...


            The issue they highlighted was the difference between Russia and China - imposing economic sanctions on China is on a different scale of magnitude, and risk even precipitating depression.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Risk?

        > Its some serious pissing in your chips

        I'll stick with vinegar, thanks.

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    How many exploding heads?

    When I was in Ultra High Speed chip design for a few years in the mid 80s to 90 it was commented that the Z80 was possibly the last chip that one person could design on their own - even though two designers are credited with its creation. 8500 devices and a pretty complicated collection of parts and just a short time to get to know the process, the logic and several other cutting edge technological aspects and get it to market before something else turns up. Quite an achievement with some lasting effects on humanities knowledge base. And a mere 60 ish years later we're popping out a trillion devices that run a million times faster to be put into racks of computers a million times larger than we had then, running software written by several million people over those 60 years.

    So people can write shit like this and send it to each other down communication channels a billion times faster than those I worked on all those years ago.

    And yet the baud rate remains the same!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many exploding heads?

      Not all of it, I'm glad to say.

      Cisco's regular switches may still run the console at 9600 baud (and, scandalously, can't handle a full config dump in one go), but the newer edge devices finally run at 115200 which means I now have two PuTTY profiles going instead of just the default.

      I haven't tried yet how far I can patch a console port at that speed. At 9600 I could get comfortably control a switch I patched through from the opposite side of the factory but I don't have any edge devices there, so that's an experiment that has to wait until next year :).

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Oh come on

    "TSMC is drawing comparisons to its N5 process, which is getting on in age, having been deployed in products for more than two years now"

    Two years and it's already "getting on" in age ? Really ?

    You are aware that Intel is still selling Pentium CPUs, right ? Now that is "getting on" in age.

    Let's avoid pushing the hamster wheel even faster, shall we ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh come on

      At some point we're going to run out steroids to keep that hamster going faster..


      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Oh come on

        Obviously we need to genetically engineer faster hamsters.

        So far, attempts to cross breed hamsters and greyhounds have been problematic

    2. Old Used Programmer

      Re: Oh come on

      The top of the line Raspberry Pi, the Pi4 series is using 28nm node for the SoC. They're still selling earlier versions that use a 40nm node for the SoC. One kind of wonders what the specs of a 3nm node Pi would look like...

  4. MJB7

    Is it just me?

    3nm is FIFTEEN silicon atoms. I realize that these lengths are no longer the actual size of the transistor, but even if its the radius of the curves, we are getting to the point where we can no longer consider silicon as a continuum.

    Also, a cube 3nm across has a volume of 27e-27 m3. Wikipedia says dopant concentration runs up to 10**18 per cc which is 10**24 m3 ... which implies such a cube has zero dopant in it!

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: Is it just me?

      I think these days that this refers to the optical tech used and no longer has any relation to the feature size

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Is it just me?

        It seems to be pure marketing these days.

        Quite what they're going to call the one after "1N" is beyond me...

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Is it just me?

          A for Ångström possibly? Certainly that’s what Intel plans to do.

    2. Aitor 1

      Re: Is it just me?

      N3 is not 3nm, they say "equivalent"

  5. John 104

    faces grapples

    Must be a British thing.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      am I the only one...?

      > Let's deal with "faces grapples".

      In this context "grapples" simply means difficulties. I have no idea where you're from, but this usage seems to be current in the land of the free.

      The other word is an inflection of "to face". If you don't get that then I doubt that you can understand any variety of English.

      I'm not here about that.

      Has el Reg died?

      There has been, so far as I can tell, approximately one single new news story since christmas. People are on holiday, sure. I'm not. Lot's of people aren't. Does the newsdesk bunk off for a fortnight at yuletide?

      It never used to be like this.


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