Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is increasing output of chips made using 28nm process technology at a speedier pace that it originally anticipated, according to a media report. The world’s largest contract manufacturer of semiconductors will likely be able to meet demand for existing orders and start accepting new designs.
In July, TSMC promised to boost its 28nm capacity to 68 thousand 300mm wafers per month by the end of the year, thanks to the ramp of fab 15/phase 2 to 50 thousand 300mm wafers a month. Apparently, the company has managed to beat its own projections, which is excellent news for companies like AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm. Already in November the fab 15/phase 2 processed 52 thousand wafers. When combined with fab 15/phase 1, TSMC should be able to process 75 – 80 thousand 300mm wafers using 28nm process technologies this month, reports Taiwan Economic News.
The split between different 28nm process technologies used by TSMC is currently unknown. Therefore, it is hard to estimate, which companies will benefit from increased output. For example, both AMD and Nvidia produce their chips using 28HP (28nm with high-k metal gate) manufacturing process, whereas Qualcomm utilizes 28LP (SiON) process technology, which is less expensive and easier to manufacture.
TSMC produces the majority of 28nm chips at fab 15, which will have capacity of more than 100 thousand 300mm wafers per month when fully operational. Construction is divided into four phases, and total investment over years was initially expected to exceed $9.322 billion (NT$300 billion). TSMC began equipment move-in for the phase 1 facility in June 2011 and started volume production of 28nm technology products for customers in October, 2011. The phase 2 of Fab 15 is projected to be completed in Q4 2012 and this was supposed to boost total 28nm capacity to reach about 50 thousand wafers per month. Thanks to rapid ramp up of the phase 2 module, the company managed to improve output of chips made using cutting-edge process technology.
TSMC is also constructing phase 3 and phase 4 of Fab 15 in parallel, which will allow it to start production simultaneously and dramatically boost its leading-edge production capacities. In particular, it is expected that TSMC will be able to start commercial manufacturing of chips using 20nm process technology in the second half of 2013. Thanks to simultaneous start of manufacturing at two phases of Fab 15, it will be able to ramp up volumes very quickly.