TSMC’s next-gen 3nm wafer cost are high: new CPUs, GPUs will be more expensive


TSMC is going to be charging more for its bleeding edge 3nm chips according to a new report from DigiTimes, which suggests the company will be charging $20,000 for 3nm wafers.

The current-gen 5nm designs that we’re already enjoying with NVIDIA and its new GeForce RTX 40 series “Ada Lovelace” GPUs are made on a custom 5nm design by TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), as well as Apple and soon AMD’s new Radeon RX 7000 series “RDNA 3” graphics cards.

TSMC’s wafer costs from 2004 to 2022 (source: DigiTimes)

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Back in 2018, TSMC was charging $10,000 (USD) per 7nm wafer — which TSMC’s 7nm process node made millions of devices sing with silicon magic: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Ryzen CPUs, Radeon GPUs, and so much more — but in 2020 when it started pumping out 5nm wafers the costs were jacked up to $16,000 per wafer. But now, TSMC’s next-gen 5nm wafers will reportedly cost $20,000 meaning next-gen CPUs and GPUs from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA will be even more expensive than they are now.

NVIDIA’s new GeForce RTX 4090 and GeForce RTX 4080 graphics cards are already expensive, with the GeForce RTX 4090 costing 10-15% more over the GeForce RTX 3090, while the new GeForce RTX 4080 costs a huge 50% over the previous-gen GeForce RTX 3080. If we follow that trend, we will be getting some mega-expensive next-gen graphics cards in the future on TSMC’s new 3nm process node with these $20,000+ wafer costs.

We even heard recently that NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang flew over to Taiwan to secure next-gen 3nm wafers for their next-gen GPUs (which should be codenamed Blackwell and will power the GeForce RTX 50 series GPUs in 2024). AMD should also be tapping TSMC’s new 3nm process node, and then we’ve got Intel which will be making its Tiled GPUs on their next-gen Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake paltforms.

TSMC's next-gen 3nm wafer cost are high: new CPUs, GPUs will be more expensive 03

DigiTimes reports: “However, this dominance situation will also allow the price of each generation of wafer foundries to rise sharply without any resistance. It is understood that 3nm has already exceeded 20,000 US dollars. With the sharp increase in production costs, the chip industry is bound to pass it on to downstream customers and consumers, and the price of new terminal products will no longer go back“.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said bluntly that despite the limited performance improvement, the increase in new products is reasonable, because the price of 12-inch foundry wafers has increased significantly compared with the past, not just a little more expensive“.

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