There’s no denying that Morris Chang, founder, chief executive and chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, is a titan of the semiconductor industry after more than 20 years at the helm of the contract chipmaker.
But it may come as a surprise to TSMC shareholders that as the 81-year-old Mr Chang contemplates succession, he feels he could only be replaced by two, or maybe even three people.
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.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, and Nvidia, the graphics chipmaker, on Thursday announced they have together produced 1 billion GeForce graphics processors. An impressive milestone, but it comes at a time when winds of change are blowing through both the contract chipmaking and the graphics card industry.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Moore’s Law has been proven for more than 40 years as the chip industry has gone on making smaller chips at lower costs. Their improved performance has driven consumer demand, which has funded the big investments needed in new equipment for volume production.
Our Silicon Showdown series today looks at the current debate about the economic rather than scientific limits of Moore’s Law. But there is an addendum about the economics if the industry actually moves up a size.
Jerry Maguire, the fictional sports agent played by Tom Cruise, summed up well the spirit of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s new Open Innovation Platform initiative.
“Help me . . . help you,” Mr Maguire implored his one remaining client in the 1996 film.
Morris Chang, founder and recently chief executive again of the world’s biggest contract chip maker, has a far larger network of customers than Mr Maguire but found himself preaching the same message this week when he addressed clients at TSMC’s annual technology symposium.
“We don’t want to play a zero-sum game with our clients”, the 77 year-old Mr Chang told them.