The two companies are the first adopters of the technology with Intel set to receive higher volumes than Apple, the report said citing unnamed sources. The 3nm processors being made for Apple are intended for iPad tablet computers while Intel has at least two 3nm designs intended for notebook computers and data center servers where it has lost market share to AMD and Nvidia respectively.
Both companies are testing their designs, the Nikkei report said with tape outs expected to happen this year
The 3nm technology (N3) will offer up to a 70 percent logic density gain compared with N5 with the choice of a 15 percent performance gain at the same power consumption or a 30 percent power reduction at the same performance compared with N5.
For Intel, the move represents an admission of problems with its own chip manufacturing that have been a decade in the making. Outsourcing to TSMC is intended to be a temporary measure until it can gets own manufacturing back on track. The company has delayed the introduction of its own 7nm manufacturing process until 2022 or 2023.
Intel has also hinted at relabelling its chip process nodes, which could make it seem less far behind TSMC.
Fabless AI chip startup Graphcore (Bristol, England) is also thought to be designing its third generation of intelligence processing unit (IPU) with 100 billion transistors on TSMC's N3 node.
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