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TSMC Chairman Confident of Foundry's Becoming Vital Supplier of IoT Ecosystem

May 05, 2015 | By Ken Liu

Morris Chang says TSMC can become the vital supplier in IoT ecosystem.Morris Chang says TSMC can become the vital supplier in IoT ecosystem.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) Chairman Morris Chang says in the company's 2014 annual report that the world's No.1 pure silicon foundry can serve as the vital supplier of the fundamental building blocks of the semiconductor's “Next Big Thing”, or the next breakthrough which he refers as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), from which the firm is preparing itself for more years of profitable growth and good shareholder returns.

Chang states the company is utilizing the same strategy as the one it uses in mobile-device market to ride the IoT wave, which is inspiring the introduction of new revolutionary mobile devices.

Over the past five years, the company has been investing to develop and acquire the necessary technology to realize maximum benefit from the growing demand for mobile devices, which will continue driving the company's growth over the next few years, says Chang.

The company, Chang notes, is investing in the capacity for both advanced and specialty technologies to meet demand from the IoT market, which is still evolving and highly promising.

Chang points out that the IoT is not only driving a multitude of consumer devices to connect to the network, it will also increasingly drive data processing power on various processors, in data centers, and in many mobile devices. For example, developers and advocates of exciting applications such as wearables, smart cars, smart homes, and smart cities can envision immense demand for semiconductors simply because the hardware for such smart technologies and more powerful, sophisticated software needed to drive the same call for increasingly more semiconductors.

Innovators, Chang notes, are already earnestly at work designing a myriad of ways to improve life quality by linking appliances of all kinds as vehicles around us to an intelligent network. To turn such vision into reality, they need semiconductors with processing power, connectivity, ultra-low power, various types of sensors, and system-level integration, including advanced packaging. TSMC, he says, has made much progress in developing all of the said technologies to make it a critical part of the IoT ecosystem.

Chang says throughout 2014, the foundry giant's revenue growth was propelled largely by strong demand for the company's industry-leading 28nm technologies, as well as the rapid acceptance by customers and ramp-up production of its unmatched 20nm System-on-Chip (SoC), the application processor in some of the world's best-selling smartphones in 2014.

Industry executives believe Chang's description of the 20nm SoC application to be its contract production of Apple's A8 processor.

Chang says the company's success in 20nm has also laid the groundwork for the company's industry-leading FinFET solution at the 16nm node. Its 16 FinFET Plus has completed technology certification on schedule in December 2014 and begun trial production for customers. The company is also advancing in 10nm technology development, on track to begin customer product tape-outs with the advanced technology by the end of 2015.

Chang says the company's volume production based on 20nm process began in mid-2014 and rose to account for 21 percent of its fourth-quarter revenue, to become the company's fastest node in terms of production ramp-up.

The company's 16nm FinFET Plus (16FF+) has a comprehensive design ecosystem that supports a wide variety of design tools and more than 100 silicon-validated IPs. Nearly 60 customer designs are currently scheduled for tape-out by the end of 2015, with volume ramp-up expected to begin in mid-2015, Chang says.


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