MediaTek, TSMC and other companies bring 4nm processors to market
This spring, the IBM Corporation
on the development of a processor based on a 2nm process technology. Moreover, these were not just words, the company demonstrated test samples of the chip. True, the announcement was criticized for several reasons at once. First, the company has been vague about the density of transistors on a chip. It was reported that “50 billion transistors were placed on a crystal the size of a fingernail.” Secondly, 2-nm, so to speak, can be different – it all depends on how to calculate these 2 nm. In addition, it was unclear when the company was going to commercialize the chip.
Anyway, there are no 2nm chips on the market yet. But 4nm processors for mobile devices may appear soon. Their appearance announced a company that hardly anyone expected such statements from is MediaTek. Its representatives said that smartphones based on new processors, Dimensity 9000, will appear in early 2022. It is clear that here, too, one can doubt who and how counted these 4 nm, but it seems that soon all statements can be verified. Under the cut – details about the processor and forecasts of other chip suppliers regarding the entry to the market of chips made according to different technical processes.
What kind of processor does MediaTek have?
The company said it is a processor for mobile devices that can be considered a competitor to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 898. Both chips will be produced by TSMC, a company that has its own plans for developing the latest chips – more on that below.
As for the characteristics of the processor from MediTek, it is a three-cluster chip. The first cluster is the most productive, it houses an ARM Cortex X2 with a frequency of 3.05 GHz. In the second cluster, the manufacturer placed three Cortex A710 cores with a frequency of 2.85 GHz, in the third – four Cortex-A510 cores with a frequency of 1.8 GHz. Accordingly, MediaTek has an eight-core processor. In terms of graphics, this is the Mali G710 with 10 cores.
But that’s not all, the developers have added a six-core APU module, which is planned to be used in computing related to AI. The processor is known to have 8 MB of L3 and 6 MB of system cache.
The new processor is equipped with an 18-bit digital signal processor for image processing, which is important for modern devices, and not only smartphones. The chip is compatible with a wide range of sensor models, up to 430 MP. The chip can work simultaneously with three streams of 4K HDR video.
The chip does not lag behind in terms of support for various screens – it is compatible with the most modern displays, up to systems with a refresh rate of up to 180 Hz. Also, the processor will be compatible with LPDDR5X and 5G memory module. Smartphones with Dimensity 9000 will receive Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E.
MediaTek claims that the processor is 35% more efficient than the hi-end chips for smartphones from other manufacturers. In addition, the Dimensity 9000 is about a third more energy efficient. Unfortunately, the announcement does not contain clear comparison results with specific models of processors from other manufacturers.
As for smartphones, which will use the new chip, they will be produced mainly by Chinese companies. These are Oppo, Realme and OnePlus, as well as Xiaomi. Perhaps the new chips will be used by Motorola and Samsung.
Modern processors are a very interesting topic, but we have other articles, check it out – we talk about:
→ Small “raspberries” in a large data center
→ new SoC from Apple – M1 Pro and M1 Max
→ Creating your own server case
Not only MediaTek
Yes, as mentioned above, several companies are planning their own 4-nm and even 3-nm processors in 2022. Among them is TSMC, which produces the lion’s share of modern chips on the market. Not so long ago
that TSMC increased its capital expenditure budget for 2021 to $ 25-28 billion. In addition, the company has pledged to invest $ 30 billion as part of its three-year plan to invest $ 100 billion in manufacturing and R&D. TSMC is going to spend about 80% of these funds in 2021 on expanding opportunities for advanced technologies – 3 nm, 4/5 nm and 6/7 nm.
What TSMC has now is an improved version of 5nm technology called N5P. It makes it possible to increase the frequency of the chip cores by 5% or reduce power consumption by 10% with the same crystal complexity as in the case of a conventional 5-nm process technology. N5P gives you the opportunity to get started with a 4nm process technology.
“N4 is a direct transition from N5 with a compatible design, providing further performance, power and transistor density enhancements for the next wave of 5nm chips. N4 production is scheduled for the second half of this year, and full production of this type of elements is scheduled for 2022 “, – stated representative of the company.
The South Korean corporation Samsung recently announced its intention to release 3nm chips in the near future. True, the start of production was planned for 2022, and then plans were postponed to 2023, with the launch of mass production in 2024. The relocation was caused by a shortage of raw materials, a high load on the company’s production lines and other reasons.
Nevertheless, the corporation plans to catch up and overtake TSMC in terms of production of modern electronic components in a few years. The Taiwanese company has recently overtaken Samsung, first starting to produce 7nm chips, and then 5nm.
Well, as for the 2-nm and 1-nm technical process, it is too early to talk about these technologies. Yes, several companies announced at once that they either already had a project for launching the production of 2-nm chips, or it would be prepared in the near future. But even according to the most optimistic forecasts, the first 2nm chips will appear no earlier than late 2023 – early 2024. And if the current problems in the electronics market will worsen, then plans will clearly have to be postponed.