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TSMC of Taiwan Raises 16nm Capacity to Cope with Surging Orders

Mar 07, 2016 | By Ken Liu

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), recognized as the world's No.1 maker of built-to-order chips, is boosting its 16-nanometer process capacity with the aim of doubling the capacity to 80,000 wafers a month by the end of this March from the current 40,000 wafers to cope with the uptrend in orders.

According to TSMC's supply chains, with their backup capacity the chip maker has quickly recovered from the loss of 120,000 silicon wafers damaged in the 6.4-magnitute earthquake that shook southern Taiwan on Feb. 6., where TSMC operates several sizable factories.   

The company's production lines have been inundated by surging orders including the ones that have to be refilled after the devastating quake.

The humming lines include the company's Fab14B operating at the Southern Taiwan Science Park, one of the company's major 16nm process facilities.

TSMC has confidently projected its 16nm process to account for as much as 70 percent of the global market. Industry executives point out that TSMC's 16nm process has overwhelmingly outperformed Samsung's 14nm process in consideration that Samsung has put on hold its plan to boost 14nm process capacity.

TSMC's 16nm processes include the currently running 16FF+ and the upcoming 16FFC. Among the company's primary customers of 16nm process foundry are Apple Inc., Xilinx, Inc., MediaTek Inc., HiSilicon Semiconductor Co., Ltd., Spreadtrum Communications Inc., and Nvidia Corp.

Industry executives believe Apple would contract TSMC to make all its A10 microprocessors thanks to the impressive performance of its 16nm process, although Apple will not announce its choice of subcontract supplier of the chips until the end of this March.

They predict TSMC's consolidated revenue for this March to strengthen from February, especially when the losses from the earthquake are compensated and delayed orders will have been refilled after the quake.

Surging orders to TSMC have been mostly generated by the business opportunities created due to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Industry executives predict the two global sports events to fuel demand for drive ICs used in display panels, chips integrated into set-top boxes, commodity memory chips, microprocessors for mobile computing devices, and chips for communication equipment.


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