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U.S.' chip ban to hurt Korean facilities in China, TSMC: Report

10/09/2022 07:12 PM
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Photo taken from Pixabay
Photo taken from Pixabay

Taipei, Oct. 9 (CNA) The U.S. government's recent decision to impose new restrictions on the sale of semiconductors and chipmaking equipment to China could hurt the Chinese foundries of South Korean chipmakers and the sales of TSMC, information advisory firm Trendforce Corp. has concluded.

The measures announced by the United States on Friday included the requirement that advanced computing chips, including those used in artificial intelligence and high-performance computing (HPC), and production equipment cannot be sold to China without a license.

In practice, that likely means prohibiting the shipment of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and advanced chips to Chinese companies, but sales to foreign companies operating in China will still be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

H.P. Chang (張小彪), COO of TrendForce's Center for Research Operations, told CNA by phone Saturday that the measures extend the restrictions from standard semiconductors to memory chips, which could hurt Chinese and South Korea suppliers.

The companies making chips in China that could be most affected are Chinese chipmakers Yangtze Memory Technology Corp. (YMTC) and ChangXin Memory Technologies and Korean chipmakers SK Hynix and Samsung, Chang said.

At the same time, because the restrictions cover chip sales by companies using American technologies, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the sales of TSMC's advanced chips from its Taiwan fabs to Chinese clients could also be curtailed, Trendforce said.

TSMC's fabs in China and most of China's home-grown chipmakers use more mature 28-nanometer processes or above, which means many of the advanced chips that will fall under the restrictions will come from outside China.

In a statement Saturday, Trendforce said chips used in high-performance computing by both Chinese and American IC design houses are mostly made by TSMC using its mainstream 7nm and 5nm processes, and the curbs could reduce the orders received by TSMC for those chips.

Trendforce did not provide any estimate of the possible impact on TSMC's sales the U.S. move could have.

Asked about the impact of the U.S.' new chip technology curbs on its operations, TSMC declined to comment, saying it was in its quiet period ahead of its quarterly earnings conference on Oct. 13.

On Sunday, Taiwan's economics minister, Wang Mei-hua (王美花), said the U.S. chip ban would have only a limited impact on Taiwanese suppliers because they were unlikely to receive orders from Chinese companies for chips used for AI and HPC applications.

Wang made the remarks as she was scheduled to depart for the U.S. later that day to attend the first physical meeting under the U.S.-Taiwan Technology Trade and Investment Collaboration (TTIC) framework.

(By Pan Chi-yi and Evelyn Kao)


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