According to a report from DigiTimes, Intel is working to secure a chunk of TSMC’s N3 (3nm) supply for its next-to-next-gen Arc “Celestial/Druid” graphics cards. Presently, the two foundry rivals are working together on the Arc “Alchemist” graphics cards set to release in the first half of 2022. Alchemist will be fabbed on the N6 node which is essentially the N7 node with improved libraries. In addition to Alchemist, some of the chiplets/tiles of the Ponte Vecchio HPC accelerator will also be fabbed by TSMC on its 5nm EUV process node.
TSMC plans to start mass production of its 3nm node in the second half of 2022 which means that the first customers (read: Apple) will be getting the first shipments of these wafers in late 2022/early 2023. AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Intel will most likely have to wait it out till late 2023. According to industry sources, Intel executives will meet with their Taiwanese counterparts in December and finalize the finer details, such as the capacity, delivery, and other specifics.
The first wave of 3nm shipments will be limited to under 60,000 pieces per month, with the second wave increasing it to roughly 100K by the first half of 2023. It’s unlikely that Intel will be able to get a share of the former, and will probably have to settle for the latter, alongside AMD, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm. It’s unclear just how the supply chain will be affected by the addition of another major chipmaker as a client of TMSC’s most advanced node, but I reckon inventory will be stretched thin.
In addition to this, Intel is also expected to conduct preliminary negotiations to book a portion of TSMC’s 2nm process capacity. Intel is planning to hold its FMO (Fab Materials Organization) Virtual Supplier Summit on 14th and 15th December. This is when the chipmaker is expected to finalize the deal with TSMC which has already confirmed its participation in the summit.