Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) reportedly plans to introduce a manufacturing process technology under a 12nm description to help it compete with rivals Samsung and Globalfoundries.
The process is obviously a smaller version of TSMC's 16nm FinFET technology and was planned to be launched as a fourth variant of the 16nm manufacturing technology, a Digitimes report said citing unnamed sources. However, TSMC has now decided to introduce the process as being at a different node, the report added.
The nominal 12nm process will have lower leakage and better cost characteristics, it was said. Having a 12nm process will help TSMC compete against Samsung and Globalfoundries, which both offer a process described as 14nm.
It was not said how quickly the 12nm process could be rolled out. However, as TSMC's 10nm FinFET process is expected to enter so-called risk production this year and ramp in 2017 it is likely that the 12nm process will be offered as an option on a similar time scale.
A relabelling would also show up how manufacturing process technology description has become pure marketing as the dimension used is no longer a metric of anything within the technology and often manufacturing processes are limited by back-end scaling as well as transistor size. Essentially manufacturing process development is now an almost continuous series of improvements and optimizations around power, performance and area.