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Taiwan’s TSMC confident its chips will outperform Intel's new product line

Chipmakers locked in renewed race for industry dominance with Intel and Samsung

TSMC building.

TSMC building. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) CEO C.C. Wei (魏哲家) says he is confident his company’s chips will out compete Intel’s recently announced product line.

Asked to comment on Intel’s future inventory, Wei says TSMC’s 2nm process node — due to be released in 2025 — will offer unrivaled transistor density and performance, according to a report by technology publication SDXCentral.

“We are confident that our technology leadership will be maintained,” he said.

Competition has been heating up among semiconductor makers since Pat Gelsinger took over as Intel CEO in February this year, promising to completely overhaul the firm’s strategy and restore Intel to its place as industry leader.

Playing to win

Just weeks later, Gelsinger announced Intel aims to compete directly with TSMC and Samsung Electronics. This is despite the fact that Intel remains a TSMC customer, with its latest generation of GPUs made in TSMC fabs, per reports.

While Intel plans to launch its first 7-nanometer chips — Intel 4 — in 2023, TSMC is pushing ahead with production of its 3nm process nodes. “We expect the revenue will be seen in the first quarter of 2023 because it takes such a long tech cycle time to have all those wafers out,” Wei says.

TSMC formally announced its plans to build a fab in Japan on Thursday (Oct. 14), which is scheduled to begin construction next year and come online in spring 2024, per Nikkei. TSMC, which is building a fab in Arizona, may be planning to open a fab in Europe too.

In fact, both Intel and TSMC recently met with the European leaders to talk about options for foundries in the region, per reports. “We don’t rule out the possibility of building a fab in other areas that include Europe,” Wei has said.

As for Intel, Gelsinger ruled out opening a foundry in Britain in an interview with the BBC on Thursday (Oct. 7), blaming Brexit.

Naming games

While no announcement on a location for a megafab in Europe has been made yet, news surfaced last month that Intel Ireland has appointed three new factory managers to expand its Kildare facility, per Silicon Republic.

Intel has promised a new naming scheme it claims better reflects the chip's performance compared to nodes from competing foundries. For example, Intel’s 10nm Enhanced Super FinFET chip will be renamed to “Intel 7.” The processor reportedly boasts at least 10% higher performance per watt over its 10nm predecessor.

Intel has not explained the rationale for its new naming scheme, though experts say the branding for Intel 7 invites comparison to TSMC’s 7nm processor. “This is equivalent to a full node of performance gain,” Intel’s Ann Kelleher says.

“As a result, we believe that Intel 7 is an appropriate name to help customers understand the competitive performance being delivered by the node.”

Updated : 2021-12-09 00:26 GMT+08:00