Tue, Apr 10, 2012 - Page 12 News List

TSMC boosting spending on mobile chips

IN DEMAND:With the firm unable to meet demand for its 28nm process, it will start 20nm production earlier than planned, aside from building a second fab

Staff writer, with Bloomberg and CNA

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co chairman and CEO Morris Chang, center, and guests take part yesterday in the groundbreaking ceremony for Phase 5 of the company’s Fab 14 in Greater Tainan.

Photo: Wang Chun-chung, Taipei Times

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, will increase capital expenditure this year on the back of strong demand for semiconductors that go into tablet devices and mobile phones.

Demand for 28-nanometer (nm) technology is “very much stronger than we expected,” TSMC chairman and chief executive officer Morris Chang (張忠謀) said in Greater Tainan yesterday, referring to the company’s most-advanced production process at present.

This has spurred the company to commence production using 20nm process technology earlier than previously planned, he said.

Chang made the remark as the company held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new manufacturing facility in the Southern Taiwan Science Park (南部科學園區). The Fab 14 Phase 5 manufacturing facility will be the firm’s second 20nm fab, which will begin commercial production in early 2014.

The first 20nm facility — Fab 12, Phase 6 at the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區) — will commence production next year.

“Our mission is to be the trusted technology and capacity provider for the global logic integrated circuit [IC] industry for years to come,” Chang said at the ceremony. “In fulfilling this mission, we further solidify TSMC’s and Taiwan’s indispensable position in the world semiconductor industry.”

“This groundbreaking for the Fab 14 Phase 5 facility represents TSMC’s capability to develop leading-edge technology, build advanced capacity and satisfy customer demand. It also lays the foundation for TSMC’s next wave of growth,” he added.

Demand for chips that go into mobile devices is increasing as more people use phones and tablet computers to access the Internet, play games and watch video. US smartphone users now exceed 100 million, Comscore Inc said last month.

TSMC is currently unable to meet demand for its 28nm technology, company spokesperson Elizabeth Sun (孫又文) said.

With phases 1, 2, 3 and 4 now in operation, the Fab 14 manufacturing facility has the capacity to produce 550,000 12-inch wafers per quarter, making it the world’s largest 12-inch fab, the company said.

The annual output value of Fab 14 phases 1 through 4 is estimated to exceed US$6 billion, and TSMC expects the combined annual revenue of Phase 5 and the planned Phase 6 to reach a similar scale.

During the past 15 years, TSMC has invested NT$450 billion (US$15.3 billion) in 8-inch and 12-inch fabs and back-end packaging in the science park, creating 8,000 jobs, Chang said.

The output value of TSMC’s fabs in the science park totaled NT$180 billion last year, accounting for 42 percent of the company’s total revenue, Chang said.

The Fab 14 facility currently has about 4,600 employees. TSMC will invest NT$350 billion in Fab 14 phases 5 and 6 facilities, creating another 4,500 jobs in the future, Chang said.

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