Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said it is to start high-volume production of its most advanced 20-nanometer (nm) chips next month, a move the chipmaker expects will give its revenue a double-digit boost next year.
The move would also make TSMC the world’s leading contract chipmaker supplying 20nm chips.
Analysts say that mass 20nm chip production could put TSMC in a position to dethrone Samsung Electronics Co as the supplier of Apple Inc’s next-generation A8 chip next year.
TSMC chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀) said in October that 20nm chips would start contributing to the firm's revenue in the second quarter of next year, following the launch of mass production in the first three months of next year.
“The 20nm system-on-a-chip is the most critical ramp-up TSMC has carried out in years. We will start high-volume production of this chip next month,” TSMC president and CEO Mark Liu (劉德音) said in a keynote speech at the company’s annual supply chain management forum in Hsinchu.
Liu said TSMC is on track to ship the chips to its clients on schedule. Thus far, the world’s top contract chipmaker has taped out 20 of the 20nm chips, Liu said in his first public speech after being promoted to co-CEO last month.
The company is expected to ship 165,000 20nm chips to Apple next year, accounting for 10 percent of its revenue that year, Daiwa Capital Markets analyst Eric Chen (陳慧明) said.
Credit Suisse analyst Randy Abrams forecast Apple orders to account for 6.5 percent of TSMC’s overall revenue next year, adding that Qualcomm Inc and MediaTek Inc (聯發科) are to become key clients for TSMC next year.
In the speech, Liu highlighted TSMC’s progress on the 16nm technology front, saying that the company recently initiated the production of 16nm chips and planned to begin mass production within a year.
TSMC is expected to make US$5.4 billion in revenue from advanced 28nm chips this year and the figure could further increase next year, Liu said.
The company, which commands more than 90 percent of the global 28nm chip market, said earlier this year that 28nm chips would be the biggest contributor to revenue this year, since production capacity and revenue are set to triple on an annual basis.
Last quarter, 28nm chips made up 32 percent of TSMC’s revenue of NT$162.58 billion (US$5.48 billion).
As a result, Liu said TSMC’s revenue would show a 17 to 18 percent annual growth this year and grow by double-digit percentage points next year, supported by continuing demand for mobile applications.
That figure would beat the 9 percent annual growth forecast for the contract chipmaking industry, as well as the semiconductor industry’s 5 percent growth.