Thu, Sep 19, 2019 - Page 12 News List

TSMC’s Liu upbeat on chip industry

MOORE’S LAW:The company’s chairman said he is confident that the industry would continue to grow, but called on the government to encourage university research

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co chairman Mark Liu speaks at a seminar at the SEMICON Taiwan show in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) yesterday said that he is optimistic about the semiconductor industry’s future growth, as Moore’s Law is alive and well, and should continue to drive industry growth.

Data from international trade group SEMI showed that over the past six decades, global semiconductor revenue has grown to US$480 billion, following the path of Moore’s Law, former Intel Corp CEO Golden Moore’s observation that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, while the cost per transistor is halved.

Debates have been going on whether a slowing of that ratio would hamper the industry’s growth.

“People have asked: Will semiconductors evolve for another 60 years? I’m optimistic about this,” Liu said in a speech to a think tank summit organized by SEMI in Taipei as part of the three-day SEMICON Taiwan show at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, which opened yesterday.

“To TSMC, Moore’s Law is alive and well,” Liu said.

TSMC’s 7-nanometer process technology entered its second year of mass production this year and its 5-nanometer technology is to begin mass production next year, Liu said.

“Next year, we will see rapid expansion for our 5-nanometer technology. Now we are concentrating our research and development efforts on 3-nanometer,” he said.

“We are also making encouraging progress in developing 2-nanometer technology every week. We are entering the ‘pathfinding’ mode [early research and development stage],” he added

“Someday, if everyone has a quantum computing device in his or her pocket, I believe TSMC will not be absent [from that technology]. I believe the development of semiconductors will continue to unfold,” Liu said.

However, a shortage of qualified engineers and other professionals could hamper the industry’s development more than technological barriers, he said.

To create a larger talent pool in Taiwan, Liu called on the government to increase its national technology research budget to encourage university professors and students to engage in semiconductor research.

“Technological leadership is the only way for Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to survive,” Liu said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told the summit that the government has approved TSMC’s environmental impact assessment for a new 2-nanometer fab in Hsinchu.

In a separate forum organized by SEMI, TSMC vice president of corporate research Philip Wong (黃漢森) said that with the evolution of Moore’s Law, the company might offer 2-nanometer and even 1-nanometer technology.

However, the technological evolution might not be defined by the technology node, or by the transistor’s geometry, but rather by chip density, Wong said.

Higher chip density helps drive costs lower, while elevating chip performance, he said.

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