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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
TSMC May Offer A Single Process at 20nm

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) will offer only one process at the 20nm node, a change from the multiple processes that the foundry has been ofering until now.

Shang-yi Chiang, executive vice president at TSMC, said that offering more 20nm processes would not make sense, as the differences in their performances would be negligible. At 20nm, there isn't much room for tweaking design rules to specify different gate lengths and other requirements, added Chiang, speaking at TSMC's annual technology symposium held on Tuesday in California.

He added that TSMC's next miniutarization step would be the 14nm process, as long as it is cost effective. These means that TSMC may also move to an 18nm or 16nm process node after the 20nm.

Chiang said the TSMC initially planned to offer two 20-nm processes, presumably a high performance process and a low-power process. Both processes would have featured high-k metal gate (HKMG) technology.

TSMC's current 28nm manufacturing node is available in four variations; a high performance process, a low power process, another low power process with high-k metal gate (HKMG) technology and a high performance process geared for mobile applications.

TSMC believes that its 20nm HKMG process will enter production next year. Two years later the company plans to start production at the 14nm node, adding FinFET 3-D transistors. Of course, history has shown that roadmaps are frequently changing as the foundries face potential issues with their implementation.

Chang also talked about the company's current 28nm node, saying that the problems the foundry faced were related to capacity, not yield.

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