AMD Zen 4 and RDNA 3, NVIDIA Hopper GPU, and Intel Xe: all 5nm on TSMC

It sounds like TSMC is having a party on 5nm, with AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Huawei, Apple, and more.

| May 11, 2020 at 11:26 pm CDT

An exciting new rumor has emerged through a leak from ChinaTimes, which is reporting that AMD's next-gen Zen 4 processors, as well as AMD's upcoming RDNA 3 (and not RDNA 2 which is on 7nm) as well as NVIDIA's new Hopper GPUs will be made on the 5nm node by TSMC.

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A leaked investment plant at-a-glace shows what TSMC has planned for its 5nm N5 and enhanced N5+ nodes. In the image, TSMC refers to AMD's upcoming Zen 4 architecture CPUs and RDNA 3-based GPUs, NVIDIA's next-gen Hopper GPU architecture, and many others including Qualcomm's next-gen Snapdragon 875 and Snapdragon X60 5G modem.

The list of technologies planned for TSMC's new 5nm node include Broadcom for a new high-speed network processor, other 5G modems, MediaTek's new Dimensity 2000 series 5G chips, Intel's next-gen Xe GPU architecture, Apple's upcoming A15 processor, Huawei HiSilison Kirin 1100, and more.

A translation of the China Times article thanks to @chiakojhua teases:

TSMC's 5nm process will enter the mass production phase in Q3. Although the orders in second half are mainly from Apple and HiSilicon, other major customers including Qualcomm, Mediatek, Xilinx, Broadcom, AMD, and NVIDIA have already commenced 5nm chip designs, expected to enter mass production during the next 2 years. In addition, there are rumors that Intel may outsource some of their 5nm chips to TSMC. Analysts expect TSMC to hit its target of 10% revenue share for 5nm this year, and to set a new record of 25-30% for the whole of next year.

Recently, there has been plenty of rumors that TSMC has lost some orders to competitors, including HiSilicon shifting some orders for advanced process nodes to SMIC, and Samsung Foundry announcing that it will begin mass production for its 5nm process and has already secured orders from Qualcomm and NVIDIA. However, industry observers generally believe that Samsung's 5nm capacity and yield can't catch up with TSMC in the second half. TSMC is also confident that it will be the only foundry that can mass-produce and supply 5nm this year.

Due to the pandemic, visibility for the second half is poor. Although TSMC will start mass-producing Apple's A14 application processor and HiSilicon's Kirin 1000 series 5G mobile phone chips in the second half, guidance of 15-18% or more increase in full-year revenue released at the recent investor's conference suggests that consolidated revenue for second half will be about the same as the first half. However, TSMC is going full-speed ahead with 5nm in the second half, as well as maintaining full-year capital expenditure of USD15-16 billion because it is seeing more and more customers designing chips on 5nm, for mass production during the next 2 years.

According to sources from the equipment industry, orders for TSMC's 5nm 'explode' next year. In addition to Apple's A14X and A15 application processors, which will use 5nm, HiSilicon's next-generation Kirin 1100 series mobile chips, AI and sever processors will also use 5nm. Further, Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 875 5G mobile phone chip and X60 modem chip, NVIDIA's future-generation Hopper-architecture GPUs, AMD's Zen4-architecture CPUs and RDNA3-architecture GPUs will also be mass-produced on TSMC's 5nm process. Recent industry rumors also suggest that Intel will become one of the major customers for TSMC's 5nm.

At the recent investor's conference, TSMC's CEO C.C. Wei pointed out that the number of tape-outs for chips designed on TSMC's 5nm process will be higher than the same period during the initial stage of mass production for 7nm. Following 7nm, 5nm will be another long-life-cycle node, expected to account for 10% of revenue this year.

Last updated: Jun 16, 2020 at 04:29 pm CDT

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