The 3nm process will feature a density 1.7 times greater than 5nm, offering better performance and power efficiency. However, TSMC has faced some complications with passing the risk production phase. TSMC is said to start mass-producing these chips sometime in the second half of 2022, which means the company is a few months behind in its manufacturing process. C.C. Wei, CEO of TSMC, attributes this to the complex nature of the technology and the specific requirements of each of different customers. This means that Intel will also suffer from a slight delay until it has its own advanced semiconductor fabs up and running.
The rumors suggest that Intel will not be using 3m chips for its Alder Lake and Raptor Lake lineup of processors in the consumer market. Rather, the order from TSMC will be used to produce an advanced GPU model, possibly for graphics cards and server applications.
Intel asks TSMC for a little help, for now
While Intel does plan to eventually have its own production facilities to manufacture chips of similar performance, it seems it will use TSMC to get advanced products like GPUs into the market. It remains to be seen whether or not Intel will meet its own goals for better process nodes in the next several years, but the company does appear confident at this current point in time.
Intel buying up the bulk of 3nm chips could negatively affect Apple and AMD’s abilities to secure the new technology for manufacturing in the future. However, TSMC plans to aggressively expand its operations to match the high demands of its customers which should help. Of course, this is just a rumor at this point, so take Intel’s large order of 3nm TSMC nodes with a pinch of salt for the time being.