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The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) chairman, Dr. Mark Liu, has hit back after multiple media reports hinted that the firm’s next-generation 2-nanometer semiconductor manufacturing process was facing stiff competition from Samsung’s foundry’s similar product. TSMC and Samsung are the only two companies in the world capable of commercially manufacturing semiconductors that are used in smartphones.
Dr. Liu assured the media that 2024 will be a good year for the semiconductor market as TSMC heads to close 2023 with annual revenue drops in eight out of 11 months. His comments were made before he was present in a meeting held in the Taiwanese parliament, also attended by President Tsai Ing-wen. Dr. Liu and MediaTek billionaire Tsai Ming-kai represented the Taiwanese corporate sector at the Executive Yuan Science and Technology Advisory Board Meeting.
TSMC Chairman Mark Liu Cites Confidence In Quality Of Firm’s 2-nanometer Chip Process Over Traditional Rival Samsung’s Products
Orders and production for the most advanced chip manufacturing processes occur in staggered stages that see chipmakers like TSMC produce smartphone chips first and then progress to more powerful products. TSMC and Samsung both manufacture high-end chips for companies like NVIDIA and Qualcomm and have to fiercely compete with each other for orders that run into millions of dollars.
Dr. Lu interacted with members of the Taiwanese press during an interview that he gave before the board meeting. This was his first interaction with the media after a report from the Financial Times had shared that Qualcomm, one of TSMC’s smartphone chip customers, was also considering using Samsung Foundry’s 2-nanometer products. The report outlined that TSMC has already sent the first batch of its 2-nanometer chips to big-ticket tech firms such as NVIDIA and Apple, with Samsung offering discounts to lure customers away from TSMC.
Chip fabrication, particularly for advanced nodes such as 2nm, is a complex endeavor often requiring precision to nano-scale levels. This usually means that the percentage of usable products out of the total output from a machine is a key determinant of the cost efficiency of chip fabrication. FT’s report mentioned that Samsung faces 3-nanometer yield problems despite having ample time to run its machines, problems which have surfaced multiple times previously.
For his part, Dr. Liu stressed that quality wins the customer over when it comes to selling semiconductors. TSMC is a key Apple supplier and provides Apple’s latest product upgrades with a key node advantage for processors during launch. Like Qualcomm, which designs chips for smartphones such as those made by Google and Samsung, Apple designs its chips for the iPhone and other products and outsources the production to TSMC. Media reports have also suggested that the deal between TSMC and Apple sees the Taiwanese firm bear the cost of defective products.
The TSMC chairman assured the media that 2024 will be a ‘year of growth’ for the company, advising them to stop worrying about TSMC’s performance.
His interview also came days after TSMC’s chief executive officer, Dr. C. C. Wei, had cautioned that 2024 would be a year with challenges and opportunities. The CEO of the world’s biggest contract chip manufacturer warned that high inflation and the resulting cost increases that feed into the supply chain mark a departure from previous global macroeconomic conditions.
Yet, the TSMC executive was optimistic about the demand for chip products used by the artificial intelligence industry. For the most part, the A.I. subsegment of the global semiconductor industry is limited to orders from NVIDIA Corporation. Much of his optimism stemmed from the broad use case bases for A.I., with Dr.Wei sharing that many industries, such as medicine, travel and resource management, can benefit from A.I. applications.