TSMC's 3nm node powers up, setting stage for tech giants' next-gen chips

AMD, Apple, Intel throw weight – and cash – behind process technology

TSMC will see its 3nm node represent over 20 percent of its revenue this year as the node of choice for upcoming processors designed by AMD, Apple, and Intel.

The semiconductor giant's 3nm process was introduced in late 2022 and hit its stride in 2023. However, Apple is currently the only company to use processors fabricated on TSMC's 3nm node. The A17 for the latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max use the N3B variant, while M3 chips for the 2023 MacBook lineup use an undisclosed 3nm variant.

TSMC's Q4 earnings report says 15 percent of its revenue came from 3nm production, and the company has said 3nm will continue to ramp throughout the year.

Taiwanese media, per ICsmart, expects 3nm revenue share will increase to 20 percent or more, and it's thanks to Apple's continued use of the node and the introduction of two more big players.

Given that TSMC's upcoming 2nm is scheduled for production in 2025, 3nm will remain the company's most cutting-edge node, and naturally Apple will continue to use it. The rumored A18 mobile and M4 computer chips will be fabbed on 3nm like their predecessors, though Apple might choose a different 3nm variant this time around.

AMD's upcoming Zen 5 processors are also going to use the 3nm node per an AMD roadmap from 2022. However, not all Zen 5 chips will use 3nm as the same roadmap also mentions Zen 5 on 4nm, the same node AMD uses for its Phoenix APUs. The only Zen 5 processor AMD has confirmed, the Strix Point APU, is rumored to use 4nm rather than 3nm, but it's uncertain at the moment.

At the very least, history would imply that AMD's chiplets for server and desktop processors will use the cutting-edge 3nm node. After all, AMD is keen to keep its money-making Epyc server CPUs as competitive as possible, especially in the face of a resurgent Intel. It's a similar situation for AMD's desktop business as Intel's upcoming Arrow Lake chips are expected to restart competition.

Intel is also expected to make big 3nm chip orders this year. Intel's discrete graphics cards and integrated graphics tiles for Meteor lake are fabbed at TSMC, and upcoming Battlemage GPUs (both integrated and discrete) are expected to be TSMC-produced as well, potentially on 3nm.

Intel's CPU compute tiles may even be produced at TSMC. Meteor Lake currently uses the Intel 7 node for its compute tile, but rumors suggest that efficiency-focused Lunar Lake CPUs will rely on TSMC's 3nm for its compute tile rather than the expected 18A node. Further rumors suggest Arrow Lake's compute tile will also be fabbed on TSMC's 3nm. Of course, these are just rumors, and the last thing Intel probably wants to do is to switch from its own fabs to those of a key rival.

Even in the land of confirmed hard facts, it's clear 3nm is on the rise. While it made up 15 percent of TSMC's Q4 revenue, it was just at 6 percent in Q3, more than doubling share quarter-to-quarter. That was achieved with orders predominantly (or even exclusively) made by Apple. TSMC might even be able to achieve 20 percent or more on Apple's chip orders alone. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like