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28-/32nm roadmap ups TSMC biz outlook

Posted: 08 Sep 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:foundry  TSMC roadmap  32nm process 

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd continues to see a surge in business as it solidifies its process roadmap.

After a slump in Q1, TSMC rebounded and recently posted strong results in Q2. The company also raised its capital spending to Rs.11,181.36 crore ($2.3 billion) for 2009. Its capital spending budget is projected to exceed Rs.9,722.92 crore ($2 billion) in 2010, according to analysts.

And in the meantime, the foundry giant is seeing better-than-expected sales demand in Q3, according to an analyst. "Checks with TSMC lead us to believe Q3 guidance of plus 20 per cent could move to around 25 per cent with computing/graphics leading, followed by communications and then consumer," said C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in a new report.

TSMC reported consolidated revenue of Rs.10,984.56 crore (NT$74.21 billion) and net income of Rs.3,617.61 crore (NT$24.44 billion) in Q2. Year-over-year, Q2 revenue decreased 15.8 per cent, while net income decreased 15 per cent. Compared to the previous quarter, Q2 results represent an 87.9 per cent increase in revenue, and an increase of 1,467.9 per cent in net income.

Meanwhile, on the process side, the company continues to make progress on the leading-edge, especially at the 40nm node. "40nm appears now to be ramping well for 4Q after earlier challenges," Muse said. "We believe improved mix may enable firmer Q4 09 ASPs."

As reported, TSMC initially experienced low 40nm yields. Now, the company's 40nm yields are improving to a large degree, he indicated.

TSMC continues to move full speed ahead on new technology. In an interview with EE Times, Jack Sun, vice president of R&D at TSMC, insisted that the company is on schedule with its upcoming 32- and 28nm processes.

28nm move
The previously-announced, 32nm process is a half-node technology, which is targeted for production by year's end. "Everything is on target," Sun said. "We are in the qualification stage. Tape-outs (will occur) very soon."

The full-node, 28nm process was initially rolled out last year. TSMC plans to deliver its 28nm process as a full-node technology, offering the option of both high-k/metal gate and silicon oxynitride (SiON) material to support different customer applications and performance requirements.

Originally, TSMC rolled out two 28nm processes. The SiON-based 28LPT (low power / high performance) process is the family's lowest total power and cost-effective technology. The 28HP (high performance) process, TSMC's first high-k/metal-gate technology, will support performance-demanding applications such as CPUs, graphic processors and FPGAs.

As expected, TSMC last week announced that it is adding a low power process to its 28nm, high-k/metal-gate road map. The new process is expected to enter risk production in the third quarter of 2010. Risk production indicates that the process "is robust enough to enter initial production," Sun said.

Risk production for the 28nm, low power (LP) SiON process is scheduled for the end of first quarter of 2010, while risk production for the 28nm HP process is expected at the end of Q2 10.

Some of TSMC's rivals believe there will be leakage issues with the 28nm SiON process. On the other hand, TSMC's Sun said customers will be able to manage the power and leakage with its triple-gate oxide option, along with "lots of tricks" in the design flow.

Others believe that TSMC is behind in high-k and metal-gate. "I can't comment about our competitors," he said. "We have our own schedule."

In any case, TSMC's customers appear to be lining up for the 28nm processes. Demand appears to be strong for its 28nm processes. And the company is still not slowing down on the Moore's Law front.

"I don't see a slowdown in engagements," he said. "Across the board, the leaders are not slowing down" in terms of moving towards new and leading-edge processes.


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