semiconductors

Arm shares are being treated like royalty today, despite being disdained as commoners at the open. Read more >>

Arm’s share-price surge on the crest of a smartphone wave over the past five years has been impressive, but the UK chip designer is now suffering and in search of a fresh sea change in technology. Read more >>

The PC may be in decline, but one part of the industry is feeling chipper. Read more >>

The six-month search is over. Intel’s board has picked Brian Krzanich, current chief operating officer, as the chip maker’s new chief executive, replacing Paul Otellini who left Intel after 8 years, Reuters has reported.

As Chris Nuttall wrote at the time of Mr Otellini’s exit, Mr Krzanich was an early favourite for the top job. He was promoted to chief operating officer in January last year, a role occupied by Craig Barrett, Mr Otellini’s predecessor, before he took the top job. As executive vice-president, Mr Krzanich already occupied the most senior role below the chief executive. Read more >>

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, has for the first time laid out its roadmap for moving to bigger silicon discs to drive down chip manufacturing costs.

The world’s biggest chipmaker said on Thursday that it plans to have a trial production line using 18-inch wafers ready by 2013 or 2014. Full production would begin in 2015 or 2016. Read more >>

The way is finally clear for the first formal tie-up between a Taiwanese and a Chinese chipmaker. Taiwan’s government on Monday gave approval for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, to take a 7.4 per cent stake in China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International, China’s biggest chipmaker by capacity.

The story of how SMIC was founded a decade ago by Richard Chang, a former senior TSMC executive, and how the two companies later became embroiled in a long-running trade secrets battle, is an interesting and revealing tale about China’s (largely failed) efforts to create a domestic chipmaking industry.

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How much capacity does Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company need?  The world’s biggest contract chipmaker is, after all, already planning to spend $4.8bn this year alone on capacity expansion. 

The answer, according to Morris Chang, chairman and chief executive, is a lot more still.  Addressing an audience of TSMC clients yesterday, Mr Chang laid out for the first time his approach towards capacity-building.  The chip making industry, he said, often oscillates between two states of imbalance – either demand outstrips supply, or vice versa.  Read more >>

Even for people who keep more of an eye out on upstream chip companies rather than downstream device makers, the focus for this year’s Computex has been very much on tablet PCs. This is because of the general consensus that while Intel will find it difficult to break into the Arm-dominated mobile phone and smartphone markets, Arm, too, will struggle to break into Intel’s stronghold in personal computers.

This leaves the tablet as just ambiguous enough a category – is it an oversized mobile device? Or a keyboard-less netbook? – for the two to fight over. This is certainly happening – Intel unveiled Canoe Lake (pictured), a new ultrathin platform that can support both single and dual-core atom processors for tablets and netbooks – at its Computex keynote on Tuesday.

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It is not often that a results conference comes complete with a lecture on the future path of semiconductor development should Moore’s Law reach its limits, but then Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is not like many other companies – few other chipmaker produce as many different types of chips for as many different applications.

Among the highlights of the 20-minute talk by Chiang Shang-yi, TSMC vice president of research and development:

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TSMC, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, has long sought to stay a step ahead of an industry-wide plan that maps the long term technological development of the chip industry.

When the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors called for the spacing between transistors on a chip to be 45 nanometers, TSMC produced 40nm chips. Instead of choosing the 32nm “node” for its next generation chips, TSMC is moving to 28nm. More closely-placed transistors mean a more powerful chip. Read more >>