Industry sources told DigiTimes that TSMC has secured chip orders for 12nm products from various fabless chip designers, including NVIDIA, MediaTek, Silicon Motion Technology and HiSilicon. The 12nm node from TSMC is basically an enhanced version of its 16nm technology, with lower power leakage and better cost characteristics.
TSMC's 12nm process could stop Samsung and Globalfoundries from expanding their respective 14nm and 12nm FD-SOI process businesses, said the sources. TSMC's 12nm process is a smaller version of the foundry's 16nm technology, which is already offered in three process variants, and comes with lower leakage and better cost characteristics.
Nvidia will use TSMC's 12nm process to fabricate graphics processors for AI computing and self-driving cars, while MediaTek plans to roll out a SoC series built using TSMC's 12nm process technology, the sources noted.
One of the first chips made on TSMC's 12nm process is the NVIDIA Volta. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed off an upcoming Tesla V100 at yesterday's GTC 2017 keynote. The GV100 GPU in the Tesla V100 is a huge 815mm² beast for the deep learning market. It starts shipping next quarter.