If you thought that the latest graphics cards and the best CPUs have already been expensive, the next generation of PC hardware might be an unpleasant surprise.
According to a new report, TSMC’s 3nm wafers will be significantly more expensive, and that’s very likely to affect the prices of many next-gen products, especially the high-end CPUs and GPUs often used in gaming builds.
TSMC is a massive semiconductor foundry responsible for making process nodes for clients such as AMD, Nvidia, and Apple. It has some competition from Samsung, but right now, TSMC is king when it comes to the next-gen 3nm process segment, and it seems like it’s going to leverage that fact in order to increase profits.
According to a new report published by DigiTimes, TSMC will be introducing a major price hike on its 3nm wafers. These 3nm wafers will be used in the next generations of processors and graphics cards, so, unfortunately, this decision is very likely to affect the pricing of hardware in a couple of years when these products start being introduced to the market.
As can be seen on the chart above, the 5nm process (currently used by Nvidia’s RTX 4090, for example) was already a huge jump from 7nm as far as pricing goes — the wafer went up from $10,000 to $16,000. Now, TSMC is reportedly planning a similar increase, making the leap from $16,000 to $20,000 or more.
AMD and Nvidia both rely on TSMC heavily. While Nvidia’s RTX 40-series poses a huge increase in price, AMD has managed to keep things more reasonable with the upcoming Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT. In Nvidia’s case, there’s no denying that both the RTX 4090 and the recently launched RTX 4080 are expensive, even if you consider the performance boost that they both offer.
AMD makes things a little cheaper by mixing different nodes to try to cut down costs, using both 5nm and 6nm in its recent products. The next-gen GPUs, set to launch in December, will utilize both 5nm and 6nm, and this is reflected in the price — the RX 7900 XTX will cost $999 while the RX 7900 XT is $100 cheaper at $899.
It’s currently hard to tell just how long AMD will try to maintain some sort of a price dominance over Nvidia. Assuming both manufacturers switch to 3nm for the next generation of graphics cards, the costs will be increased across the board, although AMD may perhaps stick to the mix-and-match strategy it’s using right now.
If this report about TSMC prices proves to be true, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang may have been right all along when he said that “the idea that the chip is going to go down in price is a story of the past.“