- Jun 1, 2017
Cost is the biggest issue indeed. That's essentially why a pure play foundry like TSMC is about to surpass self proclaimed "process leader" Intel: The biggest push for ever smaller nodes comes from mobile phone manufacturer, and the mobile market is big enough to ensure enough customer demand = funding for new nodes. So far anyway. It looks like the mobile phone market is plateauing right now so the high costs for 3nm will be prohibitive even there, ensuring the current cadence likely stops at that point.
The article notes the strong reliance on FinFET so far, that the fin width of 3nm is bordering the physical limit. Other approaches are required, but prohibitive cost as well as the lack of bleeding edge foundries remaining (only TSMC, Samsung and Intel) may lead to insufficient R&D being spent in that particular field.