TSMC announces move to 20 nanometer process

Taiwanese chip shop, TSMC said it would skip the 22nm manufacturing process node in favour of moving straight to a 20nm technology instead.

The bombastic statement was made at the firm’s 2010 Technology Symposium, with TSMC reckoning the decision would result in “a more viable alternative for its customers.” More viable than the disastrous 40nm node we presume.

Talking to a room full of almost 1,500 TSMC customers and third party alliances, TSMC’s senior vice president of research & development, Dr. Shang-yi Chiang, gushed that moving to 20nm would create “superior gate density and chip performance to cost ratio than a 22nm process technology.”

Apparently the tech will all be based “on a planar process with enhanced high-K metal gate, novel strained silicon, and low-resistance copper Ultra-Low-K interconnects,” with Chiang insisting TSMC had already demonstrated record-setting feasibility of other transistor structures like FinFET and high-mobility devices. You’ll just have to take his word for it.

We’re also told that the technical rationale behind the move “is based on the capability of innovative patterning technology and layout design methodologies required at these advanced technology nodes.” 

“We have reached a point in advanced technology development where we need to be actively concerned about the ROI of advanced technology,” noted a rather chipper Chiang.  

“We also need to broaden our thinking beyond the process technology barriers that are inherent in every new node,” he said.

But sounding a note of realism and caution, the good Dr explained that both collaborative and co-optimized innovation would be necessary to overcome the technological and economic challenges ahead.

Meanwhile, the firm plans to enter 20nm risk production in the second half of 2012.  

TSMC’s ever growing rival, GlobalFoundries, doesn’t seem particularly worried by this latest chip shot out of Taiwan.

“We are absolutely committed to next-generation technology development beyond 28nm and we are working closely with our partners to prepare for the 22/20nm node,” spokesman Jason Gorss told TechEye.

The firm, however, refuses to give a timeline or any specific details on its approach.

“Right now we are focused on executing on our ramp of 32nm technology and preparing to deliver 28nm technology offerings beginning in 2H10,” Gorss added, explaining that the 28nm node was a “critical inflection point for the foundry industry” which would offer customers “a number of significant advantages.”

Ultimately, intimated Gorss, Glofo believes customer’s choice at the next node will be driven by their foundry experience at 28nm, something the fab spin-off is rather confident about seeing as it plans to “offer the most robust technology with the fastest time to volume.”