Taiwanese semiconductor foundry TSMC has announced its most advanced process technology called A16. Scheduled to enter production in the second half of 2026, it is the company’s 1.6nm production node. Like the upcoming 2nm process, A16 will employ the GAA (gate-all-around) transistor architecture. Its 3nm chips use the older FinFET architecture.

TSMC is the world’s largest semiconductor foundry. It is a pure-play foundry that doesn’t design its own chips but only manufactures chips designed by other firms. The likes of Samsung and Intel do both, while Qualcomm and MediaTek are fabless companies that do not own manufacturing facilities. They rely on TSMC and other foundries to produce their chips.

In 2022, Samsung and TSMC started mass production of 3nm chips. The former upgraded to the GAA architecture while the latter stuck to the FinFET architecture. It plans to upgrade with the 2nm solutions sometime next year. While the company works on its 2nm process technology, it has announced plans for the next major leap forward. It will step into the “angstrom-class” process technology (the next measurement below nanometer) in 2026.

While TSMC didn’t explicitly state that A16 is a 1.6nm process node, it told The Register that the A stands for angstroms. Since 10 angstroms is equivalent to 1nm, A16 indicates a 1.6nm process. The new technology, combined with the GAA architecture, allows for up to 10% more transistors without increasing the chip size. It also brings 10% faster clock speeds at the same power and lowers power consumption by 20% when the same speed is kept unchanged.

TSMC’s A16 node also features the Super Power Rail (SPR) backside power delivery network. It is a first for the company. The technology enables superior transistor density and power delivery, improving the overall performance of the chip. The Taiwanese giant says these improvements will prove beneficial to high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) applications that require complex signal wiring and power circuitry.

Devices with 1.6nm chips may arrive in 2027

TSMC plans to start mass production on its 1.6nm process node in the second half of 2026. The new tech likely won’t be ready in time for Apple’s flagship iPhone processor that year. At best, devices powered by 1.6nm chips may arrive in 2027. It remains to be seen if Samsung can keep up with its Taiwanese rival in the foundry race. The Korean firm is also set to start 2nm mass production next year, though it has yet to make 3nm smartphone chips.

TSMC 1 6nm process technology 3

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