Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. expects demand for its next-generation 20nm manufacturing technology to be even higher than the demand for its current-gen leading-edge 28nm fabrication process. The company hopes it will be able to meet the demand thanks to simultaneous launch of two manufacturing facilities capable of 20nm.
“We think that our volume of 20nm SoC next year, 2014, will be greater than the volume of 28nm last year and we think the volume of 20nm SoC in 2015 will be greater than the volume of 28nm this year,” said Morris Chang, chief executive officer and chairman of TSMC, during a conference call with financial analysts.
TSMC now produces its 28nm chips at Fab 15 phase 1 and 2. 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 was completed in Q4 2012 and this was supposed to boost total 28nm capacity to reach about 50 thousand wafers per month. The Fab 15 phase 3 and phase 4 will manufacture chips using 20nm manufacturing process starting from the second half of 2013. TSMC is also constructing phase 3 and phase 4 of Fab 15 in parallel, which will allow it to start 20nm production simultaneously and dramatically boost its leading-edge production capacities.
Since TSMC will only offer one version of 20nm fabrication process (vs. four versions of 28nm manufacturing technology), it will take shorter amount of time to ramp up volume production of chips using the technology.
The head of TSMC declined to comment whether the cost of manufacturing at 20nm will be significantly higher compared to the cost of production at 28nm. Still he said that the vast majority of customers are interested in transition to 20nm fabrication process.