TSMC, MediaTek upbeat about Metaverse future

12/06/2021 07:40 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) Contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and integrated circuit designer MediaTek Inc. are both optimistic about the "Metaverse" concept, expecting it to create major opportunities for the semiconductor industry.

At a tech forum held last week to commemorate K.T. Lee (李國鼎), a prominent technocrat who helped build Taiwan's semiconductor sector in the second half of the 20th century, TSMC Chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) said he expected the Metaverse to grow quickly during the next decade.

Over the next 10 years, Liu said, data computing power and transmission speed are expected to increase significantly, paving the way for a combined real and virtual world, and TSMC has been developing the technologies needed for Metaverse applications.

The so-called "Metaverse" concept has been talked up by Meta (Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg since July. It refers to a digital world where people can move between devices and communicate in a virtual environment.

In fact, Liu said, hardware for the Metaverse concept has been developed for years, leading to the belief that augmented reality (AR) devices could replace smartphones and virtual reality (VR) gadgets could replace personal computers.

The main problem at present is how to make AR and VR headsets more affordable and lighter with a longer battery life, said Liu, who contended that the headsets "have to be improved 100-fold" if they hope to become as popular as smartphones.

MediaTek Chairman Tsai Ming-kai (蔡明介) expected the AR and VR device market to be worth US$500 billion by 2040, and the applications for those devices to be used in the Metaverse will be a main target of the semiconducter industry.

The market for these applications, which will be used while working, socializing, gaming, buying goods or making financial transactions, could grow to US$8.3 trillion, Tsai said.

According to Taipei-based market information advisory firm TrendForce Corp., the Metaverse concept is expected to prompt more suppliers to jump into VR and AR device development, and it forecast shipments of VR and AR devices to hit 12.02 million units in 2022, up 26.4 percent from a year earlier.

TrendForce said the smart manufacturing market resulting from the Metaverse concept is expected to top US$540 billion in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) hitting 15.35 percent from 2021 to 2025.

In addition to TSMC and MediaTek, other Taiwanese semiconductor suppliers such as Novatek Microelectronics Corp., which supplies drive ICs for flat panels, and Phison Electronics Corp, a memory control IC maker, also appeared upbeat about Metaverse applications.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Frances Huang)

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