Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 11 News List

TSMC says it will start building chip plant in April

STAFF WRITER , WITH BLOOMBERG

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufac-turing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world's largest custom-chipmaker, said it plans to begin construction of a 12-inch chip factory in April.

The new investment came after the company's board approved on Tuesday of alloting US$1.133 billion for the expansion of 65 and 90 nanometer process capacity in 300mm wafer fabs.

"We have the intention to do the groundbreaking for a new fab next April," TSMC spokesman Tzeng Jinnhaw (曾晉皓) said in a telephone interview, confirming a report by the Chinese-language Commercial Times, which cited an unnamed official.

In a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange on Tuesday, TSMC said its board also approved the allotment of US$9.2 million in expanding 1.0 micron high voltage process capacity at Fab 2, one of its existing fabs.

production

TSMC expects to begin production at the planned facility in Hsinchu about 18 months after construction begins, "depending on market conditions," Tzeng said. The chipmaker has applied to the Hsinchu Science Park Administration for land for the plant.

In addition to TSMC, both Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體) and Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp (世界先進) may also soon start constructing fabs at the Hsinchu science park, according to the park's administration.

Powerchip, the nation's largest memory-chip maker, is expected to begin construction of two new plants for making 12-inch wafers next year at the earliest, while Vanguard has yet to make up its mind whether its new fab will make 8-inch or 12-inch wafers, the park's administration said.

TSMC controls more than half of the world's market for making chips to a client's specifications, according to researcher IC Insights. It has the capacity to produce 271,000 silicon wafers a month at its two existing 12-inch facilities, double that of rival United Microelectronics Corp (聯電).

economical

The 12-inch plants can lower costs and increase yield per wafer compared with the older eight-inch factories.

TSMC said last month it expects expenditure on factories and equipment to be "slightly higher" than the US$2.6 billion it will spend this year. Tzeng declined to say if the new facility is included in that budget.

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