TSMC’s 5nm EUV process is the most cutting edge chip manufacturing process in the world. Leveraging the EUV technology and a special dry-clean mask technique for the EUV mask, it’s also the most expensive. As per estimates from DigiTimes, each 5nm wafer (not chip) will cost $17,000 US.
At the same time, as the density and efficiency increases, you get more chips per wafer, effectively increasing the number of chips you get from each wafer.
As per a report from DT, Apple has reserved most of TSMC’s 5nm capacity for 2020, thanks to a slew of new orders for the upcoming iPhones, iPads, and the custom-designed, Arm-based Mac chips. Apple yesterday announced its A14 SoC which will be the first chip in the industry to utilize TSMC’s 5nm EUV process. Despite a markedly high gain in efficiency and density thanks to the new node, the initial figures for the new chip were rather paltry, promising just around 15% and 8% better performance on the CPU and GPU side, respectively.
Meanwhile, as per figures provided by a source on Twitter, the per wafer sales prices have increased significantly over the last decade. This is primarily because the newer, denser processes have lower yields and therefore, increased prices. Furthermore, limited competition in the sub-10nm space has pushed most chipmakers towards TSMC, further raising the prices. The increase in pricing is somewhat offset by the increased wafer density which allows more chips to be obtained from one wafter. This has allowed the industry to keep the prices of processors more or less unchanged over the last 5-6 years.