Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said it plans to start initial chip production using cutting-edge 5-nanometer technology in 2019, possibly allowing the company to pull ahead of peers.
TSMC this year entered the technology development phase for 5-nanometer technology, company co-chief executive officer Mark Liu (劉德音) told the chipmaker’s annual supply chain management forum.
The Hsinchu-based firm has about 6,000 research and development (R&D) personnel working on the development of 5-nanometer technology, Liu said.
“TSMC has set a high and aggressive target as its [5-nanometer] technology road map shows,” Clark Tseng (曾瑞榆), a senior semiconductor analyst with Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, said by telephone. “It is likely that TSMC will lead its competitors in ramping 5-nanometer technology, as no clear road map has been disclosed by Samsung Electronics yet.”
TSMC this year plans to increase R&D spending by 15 percent from last year, alongside a capital expenditure of US$10 billion, to boost its technology leadership, Liu said.
The chipmaker spent US$2.21 billion on R&D last year, the company’s financial statement showed.
TSMC has also tasked several hundred R&D personnel with the initial development of 3-nanometer technology and is evaluating a fab site for 3-nanometer chip production, he added.
“We are optimistic about 3-nanometer” development, Liu said.
As for 7-nanometer technology, Liu said the company is confident that it will stay ahead of its major competitors in ramping up chip production using the advanced technology.
TSMC is to start initial chip production using 7-nanometer technology at the end of this quarter, followed by mass production next year.
Regarding 10-nanometer technology, Liu said 3,000 engineers and 1,500 technicians are working to ship a small volume of chips this quarter.
The volume will increase rapidly from the second quarter, he said.
TSMC has reportedly been tapped as a major chip supplier using the 10-nanometer technology for Apple Inc’s new iPhone models.
The company declined to comment on the reports.
Solid technological capabilities have helped TSMC gain a 65 to 70 percent share of the world’s 16-nanometer chip market and 80 percent share of the 28-nanometer chip market, the firm said.
South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co yesterday launched its first Exynos processor built on the company’s 10 nanometer FinFet process technology, the company said in a statement.
The advanced processor is in mass production, it said.
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