[News] TSMC Chairman Notes Global Fragmentation with the Rise of Nvidia and Fabless companies

2023-11-27 Semiconductors editor

TSMC’s Chairman, Mark Liu, recently addressed the challenges posed by global fragmentation and emerging national security concerns, which may potentially lead to a slowdown in global innovation. Despite these concerns, Liu emphasized Taiwan’s ability to respond calmly. TSMC remains committed to advancing its manufacturing processes and collaborates closely with clients to establish an open innovation platform.

On November 22th, Liu spoke at a lecture organized by Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, Taiwan (CNAIC), focusing on “TSMC in the AI Era,” as reported by the Central News Agency (CNA). During the lecture, Liu highlighted that Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, serving as a cornerstone, plays a vital role in driving advancements in AI applications.

However, he also acknowledged that the ongoing US-China chip war has brought global fragmentation and raised national security concerns, potentially slow down the pace of global innovation. Despite these challenges, Liu expressed confidence in Taiwan’s ability to handle them effectively.

In terms of  latest updates on TSMC’s global fabs, Liu mentioned positive communication with local unions in the US, showcasing TSMC’s ability to adapt and learn from new experiences. He also commended the high-quality and dedicated personality of Japanese engineers during his visit to Japan.

TSMC’s fab in Arizona, employing nearly 1,100 local staff, continues to recruit talents with plans for mass production to commence in 2025. The Kumamoto fab in Japan is expected to initiate production of 12nm, 16nm, 22nm, and 28nm processes by the end of the next year.

Regarding TSMC’s upcoming fab in Germany, the company aims to establish a specialized wafer fab focusing on automotive and industrial applications. This fab will produce 12nm, 16nm, 22nm, and 28nm processes, with construction set to begin in the second half of the next year and production slated for the end of 2027.

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Rise of Nvidia and other fabless companies, anticipating 10% growth in the next five years

Looking forward to the future tech landscape, Liu also anticipated Nvidia’s emergence as the world’s largest semiconductor company in 2023. From recent financial reports, Nvidia’s Q3 revenue reached USD 18.12 billion, surpassing TSMC’s USD 17.27 billion for the same quarter, as well as Intel’s USD 14.16 billion and Samsung Semiconductor’s USD 12.52 billion.

The rapid progress of Fabless companies also caught Liu’s eye. Fabless companies are expected to grow by around 10%, and IDMs by only 4% in the next five years. Additionally, he emphasized that semiconductor technology advances threefold every two years, projecting a 242-fold improvement over a decade.

What is “Fabless”?

Companies exclusively engaged in semiconductor design are referred to as “Fabless.” This term originates from the fact that these companies do not have their own fabrication. They are also known as “fabless semiconductor companies” due to their specialty of not owning production fab. Further categorization within fabless companies includes IC design and IP design.

Industry note that Nvidia’s growth as a fabless company is attributed to the surging demand for AI, including an optimized product portfolio. While Nvidia’s financial report mentioned geopolitical limitations and potential delays in H20’s launch, the company remains a global leader in AI computing. As for TSMC, it stands out as the most advanced pure-play foundry with its 3nm process, gradually increasing production in the second half of the year to alleviate inventory adjustment pressures within the rest of the 7nm family.
(Image: TSMC)