Science Technology

Exclusive to Apple! TSMC’s 3nm capacity is gradually increasing: expected to impact 45000 chips

On February 24, it was reported that TSMC officially started mass production of 3nm process wafers in December last year, and the production capacity is gradually being upgraded to commercial level. In order to meet Apple’s demand, TSMC may realize the plan of producing 45000 wafers per month next month. It is reported that the first customers of TSMC adopting the 3nm process technology of fin-type field-effect transistor have basically confirmed that only Apple is mainly used to produce A17 bionic chips and M3 chips.
In the 3nm process technology war, Samsung, which selected more advanced materials, led the way for nearly a year, but suffered from the lack of customers, resulting in the gradual reduction of the trust of the partners, while TSMC came from behind and entered the capacity climbing stage. In the latest report, TSMC will realize the production plan of 45000 3nm wafers next month. Given that Apple is the first customer, it is not hard to guess that these capacity will be consumed by the upcoming A17 bionic chip and M3 chip. In addition, Wei Zhejia, CEO of TSMC, said that from the third quarter of this year, the 3nm process will bring considerable revenue.
On the surface, the battle between TSMC and Samsung can be said to be settled, but the real competition is just about to begin. Earlier, the industry had announced that several leading semiconductor manufacturers such as Jidian and Liandian had idle capacity, and long-term customers requested to delay the delivery of goods, and there was also room for decline in the price of 6-inch, 8-inch and 12-inch wafers. Although the 3nm manufacturing process can bring great benefits to TSMC, the idle capacity still needs to be consumed. Samsung Semiconductor has chosen to reduce the price to grab orders. How should TSMC deal with it?
Of course, the price war should be decided in combination with the actual market demand, especially in the semiconductor industry. Even if the price of cabbage is reduced, it will be tasteless. After replacing the GAE process, Samsung Semiconductor has attracted four major customers, namely IBM, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Baidu. The AI market is booming, and these customers are likely to increase their order volume to keep up with the AI chat fever brought by ChatGPT.
(Image from: Apple official website)
No matter whether TSMC decides to cut the price or not, the main revenue estimate in 2023 will still depend on Apple. Last year, Apple made an incorrect marketing decision, which led to a serious polarization in the sales of the iPhone 14 series. The decline of the iPhone 14 used for volume consumption was obvious, and Apple had to reduce production. The reduction of iPhone production also means that the order space of TSMC will gradually loosen and the profit will also decline. IDC, a research institute, analyzed that the shipment of 229 million iPhones this year, down 0.7% year on year. Such data may also indicate that the fate of the iPhone 15 series is doomed.
However, Apple needs more advanced technology. It is also a forced choice to become a major customer of TSMC’s 3nm process technology. Whether Apple can successfully consume such a large amount of capacity is still unknown.