[News] PSMC to Launch Affordable AI Chips Next Year

According to a report by Taiwan’s Commercial Times, the semiconductor market is expected to slow down this year. PSMC Chairman Frank Huang stated that it is estimated that the current wave of semiconductor inventory clearance will not be completed until the end of the first quarter of next year, and the overall market conditions for next year are still not expected to rebound strongly.

When asked about the mature wafer fabs in mainland China aggressively capturing market share this year with low prices, Frank Huang emphasized that this was anticipated. He further stated that PSMC is planning to launch affordable AI chips primarily targeting the consumer market next year, completely differentiating them from Nvidia’s high-priced products. Given the large scale of the consumer market, he expressed optimism regarding future shipment growth.

Huang emphasized that PSMC’s planned AI chips with AI functionality are like miniature computers. Currently, international chip manufacturers offer AI chips with unit prices as high as $200,000, making them impossible for widespread adoption in the consumer market. Therefore, the AI chips PSMC plans to launch next year will have lower prices and will be specifically tailored for the massive consumer market. He gave examples, including affordable AI features being integrated into toys and household appliances. Toys, for instance, will be able to recognize their owners and engage in voice interactions.

Huang mentioned that, because they are targeting affordability and mass appeal, these AI chips will be produced using a 28-nanometer process and are expected to contribute to revenue through formal shipments next year. With a focus on the consumer market, Huang is optimistic about the future shipments and business contributions of these AI chips.


[News] Silicon Wafer Long-Term Contracts Unstable, Major Foundry Seeks Price Cut from Japanese Suppliers

According to the news from Money UDN, amid a tough semiconductor market, once-stable long-term contracts for silicon wafer makers have turned uncertain. A major Taiwanese foundry seeks price cuts in upcoming contracts from a Japanese supplier. Intense negotiations are ongoing, potentially affecting industry dynamics and pricing strategies due to the Japanese suppliers’ pivotal role in the supply chain.

Market insiders suggest silicon wafer makers may resist price reductions due to their vital role in foundries. Reports hint at foundries’ challenges and the ripple effects on critical materials suppliers.

Globally, Japan’s Shin-Etsu and SUMCO are top silicon wafer suppliers, trailed by Taiwan’s GlobalWafers, Germany’s Siltronic, and South Korea’s SK Siltron. And Taiwan SUMCO joint venture with Formosa Plastics Group as “Formosa Sumco Technology”, and other companies like Wafer Works. With over 30% market share, Shin-Etsu leads, closely followed by SUMCO, combining for around 55% to 60% global share.

Taiwan’s foundries include TSMC, UMC, VIS, and PSMC, among others. TSMC, with a global market share exceeding 50%, holds a leading position in the industry.

Silicon wafers are essential raw materials for semiconductor foundries, integrated device manufacturers (IDMs), and memory manufacturers. Presently, the standard duration for silicon wafer long-term contracts ranges from three to 8 years, specifying annual supply and demand quantities. In the previous semiconductor boom, these long-term contracts often featured escalating prices year by year.

Semiconductor market shifts led to reduced foundry capacity use, heightening tensions with silicon wafer makers’ clients. Delays emerged in the last quarter, leading to agreements between manufacturers and clients. This trend has persisted into the first half of this year. Silicon wafer industry insiders acknowledge slow end-market demand recovery and relatively high client inventories.

Amidst this situation of overflowing inventories, reports indicate that a major Taiwanese silicon wafer foundry is requesting Japanese silicon wafer suppliers to not only agree to further delays in this year’s contracted shipments but also to lower prices for next year. However, no formal agreement has been reached by the silicon wafer manufacturers at this stage.

A juridical person suggests that the negotiations are currently at a deadlock, and the situation might become clearer in the fourth quarter. If the silicon wafer manufacturers eventually concede, they are unlikely to publicly admit it, in order to prevent other clients from seeking similar adjustments and causing wider disruptions.

Market insiders also reveal that the Japanese silicon wafer manufacturers facing price reduction demands are currently operating relatively well and are adopting a firm stance. From the perspective of the foundries, they are hoping for support from their supply chain partners to alleviate the pressure. Normal silicon wafer inventories typically span two to three months, yet certain silicon wafer foundries are already grappling with high inventory levels, particularly for 8-inch wafers, which might persist throughout this year.



[News] Global Wafer Plants: Are Two More on the Horizon?

Leading semiconductor companies are making significant strides in global expansion with the announcement of two new fabrication facilities. TSMC is set to greenlight a factory in Germany, while GlobalFoundries plans to establish its first 12-inch wafer plant in Singapore.

TSMC’s Bold Move: Germany’s Green Light

TSMC from its presence in the USA, China (Shanghai and Nanjing), to Japan (Kumamoto City), TSMC’s global manufacturing footprint is expanding. Reuters reported on August 7 that TSMC’s board is inclined to approve the construction of a plant in Dresden, Germany. The German government pledges a substantial 5 billion euros (about $5.49 billion USD) to support the facility. However, the German Ministry of Economy refrains from commenting on the matter.

TSMC has been negotiating with the Saxony German state since 2021 to establish a collaborative FAB plant. In partnership with Bosch, Infineon, and Onsemi, TSMC aims to utilize the Dresden plant primarily for automotive chip production. Pending board approval, this venture could involve financing discussions with Berlin, ultimately requiring European Commission endorsement. TSMC, Intel, and Wolfspeed stand out among chip manufacturers seeking government assistance for European manufacturing ventures.

GlobalFoundries Poised to Build 12-Inch Wafer Plant in Singapore

According to, GlobalFoundries is set to make a substantial investment in the establishment of a 12-inch wafer fabrication plant in Singapore. The project’s funding could exceed NT$100 billion (approximately $3.2 billion USD). Reports suggest that this Singaporean facility will focus on producing 28-nanometer chips, with a potential completion date as early as 2026.

Industry experts note that GlobalFoundries’ move to set up a 12-inch facility in Singapore implies a significant shift in the competitive landscape. TSMC, UMC, PSMC, and GlobalFoundries – the four major semiconductor foundries – will all possess 12-inch production capabilities. Additionally, each of these companies has international expansion plans for such facilities. Notably, TSMC’s ventures span across the USA and Japan, UMC, and GlobalFoundries are both targeting Singapore, while PSMC’s strategy involves establishing a plant in Japan in collaboration with local partners.

Major Manufacturers Expand Against the Current Downturn

TSMC has been proactive in its expansion strategy, unveiling plans for ten new facilities in the past two years. These include 5 wafer plants and 2 advanced packaging facilities in Taiwan, alongside 3 overseas wafer plants. Despite the industry’s current challenges, TSMC’s expansion momentum remains strong, driven by a heightened focus on global manufacturing diversity.

TSMC is well aware of the potential risks tied to significant expansion efforts. In its latest annual report, the company acknowledges that expanding on a global scale demands substantial resources, highlighting possible challenges like rising costs, workforce shortages, disasters, land scarcity, cyber threats, government support, cultural differences, intellectual property protection, and tax variations.

Expanding during a semiconductor downturn has become a strategic approach for the foundry players. Typically, a fab construction takes 2 to 4 years, with equipment installation lasting 0.5 to 1 year and production ramp-up stretching 1 to 2 years. Looking ahead, semiconductor foundries are gearing up for a fresh wave of capacity release throughout 2024 and 2025.

Despite the industry’s ongoing slump, encouraging signs suggest that the downturn might be reaching its conclusion. Industry experts are cautiously optimistic, anticipating the arrival of the next upswing in the cycle.



Over 20 Wafer Fabs Worldwide to Be Completed Year by Year, Will TSMC Establish a New 7nm Production Line in Japan?

According to sources cited by Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, TSMC intends to commence the construction of the second fab in Kikuyo-cho, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, in April 2024, with the goal of commencing production before the end of 2026.

It is worth mentioning that news about TSMC’s plan to build its second fab in Japan had already surfaced earlier this year. In January, TSMC’s CEO, CC Wei, revealed that the company was considering establishing a second chip manufacturing facility in Japan. In June, TSMC’s Chairman, Mark Liu, also mentioned during a shareholders’ meeting that the Japanese government expressed a desire for TSMC to continue expanding its investments in Japan, while TSMC was still evaluating the construction of the second fab in the country.

Regarding TSMC’s establishment of a fab in Japan, TrendForce indicated that TSMC has played an instrumental role in fostering the growth of Japan’s semiconductor industry as Japanese fabs are unable to handle manufacturing processes as advanced as 1Xnm. TrendForce posits that TSMC could potentially consider setting up a 7nm production line in Phase 2 of JASM to cater to Japan’s demand for advanced technology. Yet, the ongoing market slowdown necessitates a long-term appraisal before implementing any expansion strategies.

In addition to TSMC, more than 20 new wafer fabs are scheduled for completion in the coming years, despite the industry being in a downturn. According to TrendForce’s statistics report in January this year, there are over 20 planned new wafer fabs worldwide, including 5 in Taiwan, 5 in the United States, 6 in Mainland China, 4 in Europe, and 4 in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore combined.

Furthermore, numerous new wafer fab projects have been announced globally since the beginning of this year. For example, in February, Infineon and Texas Instruments both announced plans to construct new wafer fabs. Infineon plans to invest 5 billion euros to build a 12-inch wafer fab in Germany, while Texas Instruments intends to establish its second 300mm wafer fab in Lehi, Utah, USA. On July 5th, PSMC signed an agreement with SBI of Japan, proposing the establishment of a 12-inch wafer foundry.

Currently, semiconductor resources have become strategic assets. In addition to considering commercial and cost structures, wafer fabs must also account for government subsidy policies, meet customer demands for local production, and maintain supply-demand balance. TrendForce believes that future product diversity and pricing strategies will be key factors for the operation of wafer fabs.


Localization of Chip Manufacturing Rising. Taiwan to Control 48% of Global Foundry Capacity in 2022, Says TrendForce

According to TrendForce, Taiwan is crucial to the global semiconductor supply chain, accounting for a 26% market share of semiconductor revenue in 2021, ranking second in the world. Its IC design and packaging & testing industries also account for a 27% and 20% global market share, ranking second and first in the world, respectively. Firmly in the pole position, Taiwan accounts for 64% of the foundry market. In addition to TSMC possessing the most advanced process technology at this stage, foundries including UMC, Vanguard, and PSMC also have their own process advantages. Under the looming shadow of chip shortages caused by the pandemic and geopolitical turmoil in the past two years, various governments have quickly awakened to the fact that localization of chip manufacturing is necessary to avoid being cut off from chip acquisition due to logistics difficulties or cross-border shipment bans. Taiwanese companies have ridden this wave to become partners that governments around the world are eager to invite to set up factories in various locales.

Currently, 8-inch and 12-inch foundries are dominated by 24 fabs in Taiwan, followed by China, South Korea, and the United States. Looking at new factories plans post 2021, Taiwan still accounts for the largest number of new fabs, including six new plants in progress, followed in activity by China and the United States, with plans for four and three new fabs, respectively. Due to the advantages and uniqueness of Taiwanese fabs in terms of advanced processes and certain special processes, they accepted invitations to set up plants in various countries, unlike non-Taiwanese foundries who largely still build fabs locally. Therefore, Taiwanese manufacturers have successively announced factory expansions at locations including the United States, China, Japan, and Singapore in addition to Taiwan in consideration of local client needs and technical cooperation.

The focus of Taiwan’s key technologies and production expansion remains in Taiwan, accounting for 44% of global wafer production capacity by 2025

In 2022, Taiwan will account for approximately 48% of global 12-inch equivalent wafer foundry production capacity. Only looking at 12-inch wafer production capacity with more than 50% market share, the market share of advanced processes below 16nm (inclusive) will be as high as 61%. However, as Taiwanese manufacturers expand their production globally, TrendForce estimates that the market share held by Taiwan’s local foundry capacity will drop slightly to 44% in 2025, of which the market share of 12-inch wafer capacity will fall to 47% and advanced manufacturing processes to approximately 58%. However, Taiwanese foundries’ recent production expansion plans remain focused on Taiwan including TSMC’s most advanced N3 and N2 nodes, while companies such as UMC, Vanguard, and PSMC retain several new factory projects in Hsinchu, Miaoli, and Tainan.

TrendForce believes, since Taiwanese foundries have announced plans to build fabs in China, the United States, Japan, and Singapore, and foundries in numerous countries are also actively expanding production, Taiwan’s market share of foundry capacity will drop slightly in 2025. However, semiconductor enclaves do not come together quickly. The integrity of a supply chain relies on the synergy among upstream (raw materials, equipment, and wafers), midstream (IP design services, IC design, manufacturing, and packaging and testing), and downstream (brands and distributors) sectors. Taiwan has advantages in talent, geographical convenience and industrial enclaves. Therefore, Taiwanese foundries still tend to focus on Taiwan for R&D and production expansion. Looking at the existing blueprint for production expansion, Taiwan will still control 44% of the world’s foundry capacity by 2025 and as much as 58% of the world’s capacity for advanced processes, continuing its dominance of the global semiconductor industry.

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