Big news from the chip fabbing front, TSMC is to invest 20bn in making chips smaller, that money goes to advanced 3-nm fabrication wafer/chip facility to be ready in production in Taiwan in two years.
The news reaches us today through nikkei. HSINGCHU, Taiwan -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's biggest contract chipmaker by revenue, is planning to spend more than $20 billion to build the world's most advanced 3-nanometer chip facility in Taiwan in the early 2020s, according to a senior company executive:
It will be the largest investment the Taiwanese chipmaker has ever made and highlights TSMC's relentless efforts to stay ahead of competitors including South Korea's Samsung Electronics and U.S. tech group Intel.
"This past September, we announced our plan for the world's first 3-nanometer fab located in the Tainan science park [in southern Taiwan]. This fab could cost upwards of $20 billion and represents TSMC's commitment to drive technology forward," said Mark Liu, the chipmaker's co-chief executive, at a company supplier forum on Thursday. Semiconductors serve as the brain in a wide range of electronic devices including computers and smartphones. The smaller the nanometer measurement, the more advanced the chip -- but also the more challenging and expensive to develop.
Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone X, uses TSMC's 10-nanometer technology for its core processor. Apple is TSMC's No.1 customer, contributing to 17% of the Taiwanese company's overall revenue in 2016. TSMC is also looking to produce 7-nanometer chips beginning next year. The chipmaker's announcement of the record investment came as the semiconductor industry is debating whether Moore's Law, which has become a golden rule of the electronics industry, can be sustained. Moore's Law refers to the proposition made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 that every two years or so, the number of transistors on a chip will double, boosting the chip's performance. But those transistors have now become so tiny that there are concerns about how much more it is possible to shrink them, posing a challenge for companies looking to create still faster, better chips for electronic devices.
For example, a single unit of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) equipment that is required for the future production of 7-nanometer chips can cost about $1.2 billion.