Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 12 News List

TSMC to deploy 45nm in Q3 next year

CONTINUED ADVANCE Offering a 40 percent boost from 65nm technology, the 45nm should help strengthen TSMC's leadership and enhance its competitive edge


The world's biggest contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) plans to start small volume production of chips for mobile phones on advanced 45-nanometer processing technology in the third quarter of next year, a company executive said yesterday.

That would make the TSMC the third in the world after Intel Corp and International Business Machines (IBM) to offer chip manufacturing employing such advanced and cost-saving technology.

"We are accelerating [the development of] 45-nanometer processing technology. We will turn out the first batch of chips using this technology in the third quarter of 2007," Jack Sun (孫元成), a vice president at TSMC's research and development division, told a press conference for the company's annual technology symposium in Hsinchu, where the company is headquartered.

Compared with 65-nanometer processing technology, the new technology allows chipmakers to cut 40 percent more chips from a silicon wafer by shrinking the circuitry width of a chip to 45 nanometers.

Demand would come from consumer electronics gadgets including mobile phones and game consoles, Sun said, adding that he expected the launch of Microsoft Corp's new Vista operating system and Intel Corp's new chips to further spur demand.

TSMC manufactures chips for many leading global firms, including Texas Instruments Inc, the world's top supplier of chips for mobile phones.

"It is important for TSMC to maintain its [technological] leadership in the contract chip manufacturing industry as this brings in more orders for the company and enhances its competitiveness in the longer term," said Wang Bou-li (王博立), who tracks the semiconductor industry for SinoPac Securities Corp (建華證券).

A recent example is the way TSMC left its rival, United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), farther behind by deploying 90-nanometer processing technology ahead of its smaller competitor, Wang said.

Moreover, TSMC's advanced 12-inch fabrication plants are running at nearly full capacity, while UMC is still trying to lure orders to fill its capacity, Wang said.

Over the past year, TSMC grabbed 70 percent of the market for chips manufactured on 90-nanometer processing technology -- currently the most advanced, mainstream processing technology, Sun said.

He said he expected the firm to gain a similar share in the market for 65-nanometer technology.

Sun said TSMC currently has 18 customers for its 65-nanometer processing technology, with mass production employing this technology scheduled to start in the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, UMC said yesterday that it had obtained qualifications from two customers for its designs and was pilot-testing various 65-nanometer products.

The company added that it had signed on eight other customers and expected 11 product tape-outs by the end of summer.

Sun, who worked at IBM for 14 years before joining TSMC in 1997, is taking over Chiang Shang-yi's (蔣尚義) position as head of research and development.

Chiang plans to retire next month.

Shares in TSMC and UMC jumped 4.34 percent and 3.24 percent to NT$57.7 and NT$19.1, respectively, on the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday.

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