Taipei, Oct. 12, 2012 (CENS)--Citigroup Global Markets Inc. estimated Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to be the only supplier of 20nm process to Apple quad-core processors over the next one to two years, citing the company's unmatched technological advance on 20nm process and Apple's decision to adopt 20nm quad-core processors in its new products.
Citigroup Global Markets' market research fellow, J.T. Hsu, pointed out that Apple began verifying TSMC's 20nm process in August this year and may begin risk production in November with the process. Volume production is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2013, raising the possibility that TSMC will hike capital expenditure to US$11-12 billion in 2013 and 2014.
Hsu estimated Apple to design quad-core processors into iPad, iTV and even Macbook. iPhones will be still powered by duo-core processors to highlight its low power consumption merit.
He pointed out that Apple began developing quad-core processors in 2010, when it acquired fabless chip company Intrincity. Until the acquisition, Intrincity had announced multi-core processors.
Apple's contracts have been widely criticized for low margin to contract suppliers, likely the reason why TSMC has been reluctant to compete for Apple contracts. But Hsu thinks otherwise, estimating Apple's quad-core chip, cost at around US$15, could be 10% cheaper once it is made by Taiwan's supply chains involving TSMC, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE), and Kinsus Interconnect Technology Corp.,
Hsu ascribed Samsung's higher cost in the production of Apple processors mostly to the company's inefficiency.
(by Ken Liu)