Intel Getting Ready to Finalize 3nm Deal with TSMC; Hopes to Avoid Clash with Apple

BY Anu Joy

Published 3 Dec 2021

Intel executives are preparing to visit TSMC’s Taiwan plant in a bid to finalize orders for the 3nm process. The pair will be working together on a GPU and three datacenter CPUs.

TSMC is Apple’s largest chip supplier. DigiTimes claimed that it had already started test-producing M3 chips built on its 3nm process node called N3. These could eventually be used in future Apple Silicon Macs. Currently, the chips found inside the latest iPhones, Macs, and iPads are based on TSMC’s 5nm process.

Intel is looking to use TSMC’s 3mm process for its future Meteor Lake processors. It plans to keep up with Apple by adopting the Taiwan-based company’s processes. Intel has always relied on its own foundry for fabricating its CPUs, but it has been lagging behind TSMC in this regard in recent years. This could be the reason why Intel CPUs have become so power hungry and inefficient. This drove Apple to work on phasing out Intel chips for its Macs, with a plan to replace them with Apple Silicon.

TSMC’s manufacturing technologies are restricted by the plant’s limited capacity during the early stages of their lifecycle. This limits the number of companies that it could partner with. Apple and TSMC have had a decade-long relationship. Former TSMC engineers have also revealed that Apple gets first preference when it comes to chip designs and research.

Understandably, Intel doesn’t want to be the third wheel in the relationship between Apple and TSMC. According to the DigiTimes, the company wants to ensure that its N3 capacity will not be affected by that of Apple. Additionally, the Intel executives plan to utilize their Taiwan visit to “finalize the scope of cooperation with TSMC” and thus avoid any possible conflicts with the Cupertino-based firm.

It’s worth noting that Intel has plans for its own 2nm node for 2024, called the 20A (angstrom). The Santa Clara firm plans to discuss work for the same with TSMC.

[Via DigiTimes]