Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has set a roadmap for its N2 (2 nm-class) fabrication process, which will enter high-volume manufacturing (HVM) in 2025, it is time for the company to begin considering a further node. According to a recent report, TSMC will reveal its 1.4 nm-class technology formally in June.
Business Korea says that TSMC aims to move the team that developed its N3 (3 nm-class) node to the development of its 1.4 nm-class fabrication process in June. Foundries and chip designers rarely openly announce R&D milestones, therefore it is unlikely that TSMC will issue a press release stating that the development of its 1.4 nm technology has begun. TSMC is scheduled to host its Technology Symposium in mid-June, where the company may provide brief details regarding the node that will replace its N2 production process.
The phases of standard process technology design flow are pathfinding and research and development. Pathfinding includes fundamental materials and physics research and is frequently conducted concurrently for several nodes. Pathfinding for TSMC's N2 is likely to complete at this point, thus teams focusing on fundamental physics and chemistry are working on a successor for N2, which may be designated as 1.4 nm or 14 angstroms. TSMC's N2 is based on gate-all-around field-effect transistors (GAAFETs), although it will utilize existing extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography with a 0.33 numerical aperture (0.33 NA). Given the current information regarding TSMC's N2, it is probable that its successor will keep GAA transistors, but the major question is whether it will transition to EUV tools with a 0.55 NA (or High NA).
Considering that TSMC's N2 reaches HVM in late 2025 (thus expect the company's first 2 nm chips to be delivered around 2026) and TSMC's two-and-a-half to three-year node introduction cadence, we can expect TSMC's 1.4 nm (or 14 angstroms) process to be used for commercial products beginning in 2028. Given the timeline, it will be advantageous for the node to implement High NA lithography, which Intel aims to implement in 2025.
Regarding Intel, it is unknown which of Intel's nodes will compete with TSMC's 1.4 nm. Intel plans to launch its 18A (18 angstroms) technology in 2025, therefore by 2028, the corporation will have introduced at least one new fabrication technique. It will be interesting to see if it will be referred to as 16A or 14A, given that Intel appears conservative with node improvements at now.