TSMC Said to Set Capex at US$10B. for 2013 Amid Apple Contract Report

Sep 10, 2012 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Electronics and Computers Ι By Ken Liu, CENS
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Taipei, Sept. 10, 2012 (CENS)--Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is said to set capital expenditure at US$10 billion next year amid reports that Apple Inc. would contract the world's No.1 pure foundry to build its next-generation processors, according to the Chinese-language Economic Daily News.

Citing statements from capital-equipment suppliers, the daily, which is an affiliate of the Taiwan Economic News, reported that TSMC has informed the equipment suppliers of its decision to hike capital expenditure for 2013 to US$10 billion. The notification, according to the suppliers, suggested TSMC has overcome technical problem with 20nm process, which Apple's next-generation processors are said to use.

Industry executives pointed out that Apple is speeding up reduction of dependence on Samsung for foundry service on its processors, inspiring them to presume that Apple would shift the contract work to TSMC. Apple has reportedly sent around 200 design engineers to help TSMC get familiar with the company's next-generation processor designs at TSMC's facility in Central Taiwan Science Park.

According to the daily, pilot production of the processors at TSMC will start in the first half of next year and general production will kick off in the second half.

The daily reported that TSMC's 2013 capital outlay would mostly go to advanced lithography tools, expansion at its giga fabs in the central Taiwan park and Southern Taiwan Science Park, expansion of its 28nm and 20nm process capacity and development of 16nm FinFET transistor process.

At a forum held a few days ago, TSMC's vice president for research and development, Burn Lin, pointed out that TSMC will begin volume production of FinFET transistors at 20nm process and is on the track to deploy 16nm FinFET process soon. Also, the company's co-chief operating officer, D.Y. Liu, pointed out that the company will definitely increase capital expenditure in 2013 and has had over 700 of its engineers engage in 20nm projects.

The reported 2013 spending is a 25% increase over TSMC's 2012 expenditure and would make TSMC the second chipmaker to spend capital at the US$10 billion range after Intel Corp.

TSMC has declined to comment on the report and stressed that it will not announce 2013 capital expenditure until January next year. However, industry executives estimated company chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Morris Chang, would release information associated with the company's 2013 spending plan at an equipment supplier convention set for November this year.
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