Published in PC Hardware

TSMC clarifies 16nm and 10nm schedule

by on08 April 2015

16FF coming soon, 10nm in late 2016

TSMC has shed more light on its FinFET plans, saying its 16nm and 10nm nodes are on track.

We discussed TSMC’s 10nm plans yesterday, but in the meantime the company revealed a few more details and the TSMC 2015 Technology Symposium in San Jose, California.

16nm FinFET Plus volume production in a matter of months

TSMC’s 16nm FinFET node (16FF) is already online, but the improved 16nm FinFET Plus (16FF+) node should be available soon as well. The company confirmed 16FF+ will enter volume production in mid-2015, roughly three months from now.

The foundry said its 16FF+ process will deliver a 10% performance uplift than competing nodes, while at the same time consuming 50% less power than its current 20nm node. 16FF+ chips will also have a cycle time twice that of 20nm chips, EE Times reports

TSMC CEO Mark Liu said the company hasn’t changed its consumer product cycle, but the cadence of product design and development has been changed to accommodate new nodes.

He also mentioned that new Cortex-A72 designs on 16FF+ will offer a 3.5x performance increase over Cortex-A15 parts (presumably on 28nm silicon), while at the same time consuming 75% less power than the A15.

An analyst told EE Times that 16FF and 16FF+ encountered significant cost challenges and that the company’s projected cost per gate would go up.

16FFC for mid- and low-end devices, wearables

In addition to 16FF and 16FF+, Liu said TSMC developed another 16nm process, dubbed 16FFC. This process was specifically designed for mid- and low-end smartphones, along with wearables and other consumer devices.

The 16FFC process is expected to reduce power consumption by up to 50% over currently available solutions. However, the process isn’t coming anytime soon – TSMC is expected to tape out the first 16FFC parts in the second half of 2016. This is in line with our predictions – FinFET parts won't appear in cheap devices over the next four quarters, if not more.

By that time, TSMC should be months away from 10nm volume production.

10nm coming by the end of 2016?

Mark Liu said TSMC’s next-generation FinFET node is on target, so the first 10nm products could enter production by the end of next year.

“Our goal is to enable your production by the end of 2016,” Liu told customers.

The company said the 10nm node will result in a 20% performance gain and 40% power reduction, as it will have a 2.1x higher density than the 16nm node. Liu stressed that TSMC is making significant investments to ensure that it’s able to meet demand for 10nm products.

Volume production is expected sometime in 2017.

Last modified on 08 April 2015
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