Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) A new research and development center established by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, is scheduled to break ground in the first quarter of next year, aimed at facilitating the development of the sophisticated 3-nanometer process or even more advanced technology.
In a TSMC supplier forum held Thursday, J.K. Wang (王建光), TSMC's senior vice president for fab operations, said construction of the new R&D center, which will be located in Hsinchu County's Baoshan Township close to TSMC's headquarters, is expected to be completed in 2021.
The 7nm process is the company's latest technology, with mass production launched in 2018. TSMC is planning to begin mass production of the 5nm process in the first half of 2020 and 3nm in 2022.
In the wake of the development of the 3nm process, TSMC will build a new plant in the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan, and the new R&D center is expected to serve as technology support for the Tainan facility, construction of which is scheduled to start in 2020.
To maintain the lead over its peers in the global market, Wang reiterated, TSMC will continue to expand its production capacity of the 7nm process and facilitate the pace of development of the 5nm process, so that capital expenditure for 2019 is expected to hit a new high ranging between US$14 billion and US$15 billion.
He said that due to the intensified efforts in technological upgrading, the 2020 capex is expected to stay at a similar level to that of 2019.
While TSMC has not disclosed any financial information on the Baoshan R&D center, the market has estimated that the cost will surpass NT$100 billion (US$3.27 billion), since the site will include expensive trial production equipment, as well as state-of-the-art machinery.
In November, TSMC Chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) said the R&D center will cover some 32 hectares and will have the capacity to house some 8,000 researchers who will help spearhead the company's research for the next 20 to 30 years.
In the second quarter of this year, TSMC began volume production of the 7nm+ process, which is one of the fastest on record. The process is the global semiconductor industry's first commercially available Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology, which provides further evidence of the company's lead in the global market.
Currently, TSMC owns a more-than 50 percent share of the world's pure wafer foundry business.