One of the top executives at TSMC has stated that the chip shortage does not seem to be ending any time soon. According to Dr. Y.J. Mii, who is TSMC’s Senior Vice President of R&D, the situation doesn’t seem to be changing post-pandemic.
Dr. Mii has attributed this shortage to the gap in supply and demand. According to Mii, demand for semiconductors has increased massively in the past few years. In response, many companies have acted by announcing new fabs and other attempts to expand their wafer production capacity, but they will take years to materialize.
“Right now, the industry is investing a tremendous amount of capital into building extra capacity to solve this chip shortage problem,” Mii says. “We have a much clearer picture of future demand today than we had two years ago.”
However, Mii’s assessment of the situation differs slightly from recent comments made by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who predicted the industry would start to rebound in 2023. Gelsinger said demand only surged during COVID-19’s onslaught, going from a typical five percent growth rate annually to 2o percent almost overnight as everyone was stuck at home around the world.
Intel has already revealed Ohio as the location for its next fab, in addition to adding two more in Arizona alongside its current operations, and it’s still yet to announce a new fab somewhere in Europe. That announcement should be made soon, with the rumor mill suggesting it’ll be somewhere in Germany.
“We are approaching atomic scale,” Mii told the IEEE. “Before, we could achieve the next-generation node by fine-tuning the process, but now for every generation, we must find new ways in terms of transistor architecture, materials, processes, and tools.” He summarized these thoughts by noting, “In the past, it’s pretty much been a major optical shrink, but that’s no longer a simple trick.” Interestingly the 3nm node is just now coming online two and a half years after TSMC ramped up production at 5nm, giving us a glimpse into future timetables. Currently, both Nvidia and AMD are using TSMC’s 5nm process for their next-gen GPUs, and Intel is a customer as well as it is creating its new Arc GPUs on the company’s 6nm process. Intel is also hoping for some of that 3nm action for its Meteor Lake GPUs, which are scheduled for 2023.