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Talk of the Day -- TSMC's 20nm fab to begin operations early

2013/04/01 21:59:42

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) will begin installing production equipment at its Fab 14 -- the first of its foundries to manufacture 20nm systems-on-chip (SoCs) -- on April 20, two months ahead of schedule, according to media reports.

If all goes well, the reports said, the new TSMC foundry will begin volume production at the end of second quarter and shipments will gain momentum in the second half of the year.

Because 20nm SoCs are expected to be TSMC's major competitive advantage in competing for Apple Inc.'s orders for its next-generation A7 processor, the company has attached great importance to the foundry's construction, the reports said.

In an unusual move, the reports said, TSMC has sent more than 100 engineers to equipment manufacturers in the United States, Europe and Japan to conduct quality checks to make sure that its new plant can start operations in the new time frame.

According to a list of the world's top 25 semiconductor sales leaders in 2012 released by market research firm IC Insights, TSMC ranked third, behind Intel and Samsung.

TSMC's ranking was the same as in 2011, while Taiwan's largest handset chip designer MediaTek Inc. saw its ranking move up five notches to 21st.

Of the top 25 semiconductor suppliers, 10 were in the U.S., seven were in Japan, three were in Taiwan, three were in Europe and two were in South Korea.

IC Insights also pointed out that the top five semiconductor suppliers all have different business models.

Intel is essentially a “pure-play IDM” (integrated device manufacturer); Samsung is a vertically integrated IC supplier; TSMC is a pure-play foundry; fourth-ranked Qualcomm is a fabless firm; and fifth-ranked TI (Texas Instruments) is a fab-lite semiconductor supplier .

The IC Insights report also said 17 of the top 25 companies saw their sales fall in 2012, including top-ranked Intel (down 1 percent) and second-ranked Samsung (down 4 percent).

In contrast, TSMC’s sales grew at an 18 percent clip, the third highest growth rate among the top 25 behind Qualcomm's 34 percent and GlobalFoundries' 31 percent.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the latest developments in the technology sector:

Economic Daily News:

TSMC said Sunday that its offerings using 20nm technology will account for a bigger share of its revenues next year.

The company would not confirm, however, if it has received orders for the A7 processor from Apple.

Sources close to semiconductor production equipment manufacturers said TSMC's 20nm production line was originally scheduled to be installed in June.

But because the equipment's yield rate reached its target, the sources said, TSMC decided to install the equipment earlier than expected.

In addition, the sources also the yield rate of TSMC's 16nm technology production line was also not bad and could begin test production ahead of the originally targeted first quarter of 2014.

Should that be the case, the sources said TSMC will be able to avert competition from Samsung and consolidate its partnerships with its longtime customers. (April 1, 2013).

United Evening News:

HTC Corp. cooperated with Chunghwa Telecom in launching a medium-range smartphone model Desire P Monday.

It marked the first exclusive cooperative project between the two companies since they signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation last month.

HTC said it has designed Desire P exclusively for Chunghwa Telecom to calitalize on the craze for its popular high-end model HTC Butterfly as "P" refers to Papilio, a genus in the swallowtail butterfly family.

HTC Desire P comes with a 4.3-inch WVGA display, IGHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8225 processor, 768MB RAM and 4GB of internal storage.

Other features include microSD card slot, 8MP rear camera with LED Flash, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and 1620 mAh battery.

The model is priced in the mid-range portfolio, at around NT$10,000. (April 1, 2013).

(By Sofia Wu)