IBM has claimed a world-first for its own labs, with “2nm” silicon now in production. All nanometer references in foundry press releases are essentially made-up numbers when used in this fashion. There is no single, defining feature in the chip that matches 2nm and is used for tracking progress in this fashion. Node names are defined by each foundry individually. This is how Intel can define a 10nm node with approximately the same transistor density as TSMC’s 7nm. This gap in numbers can create the illusion that one company is more advanced than the other purely based on a marketing metric.
The idea of using overall transistor density rather than node names has caught a bit in recent years. What IBM is calling 2nm has a transistor density of 333.33MTr/mm2 (million transistors per square millimeter). Intel’s 10nm has a quoted density of 100.76MTr/mm2, while TSMC’s 7nm has a density of 91.2MTr/mm2. This is where the common claim that Intel’s 10nm and TSMC’s 7nm are comparable comes from — Intel actually offers slightly higher transistor densities at the 10nm node than the Taiwanese foundry does on 7nm.