Competition in advanced process technologies market to heat up
Cage Chao, Taipei; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES [Monday 25 April 2016]

Competition in the market for semiconductor advanced process technologies is expected to heat up, with Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) striving for more businesses in the fabless sector by stepping up efforts to make the jump to more advanced processes, according to industry sources.

Samsung has recently disclosed plans to roll out a cost-optimized version of its 14nm FinFET fabrication process, as well as two generations of its 10nm process technology with the second generation offering better performance than the first generation. Samsung's foundry operations are aggressively seeking new customers while claiming its leadership in 14nm and more advanced process technologies to secure orders from its existing major customers such as Apple and Qualcomm, the sources indicated.

TSMC, despite the loss of its first-tier customers such as Qualcomm to rival Samsung in the 14nm and 16nm process segment, is stepping up development of its 10nm and 7nm technologies, the sources said. The Taiwan-based foundry is believed to have obtained all of Apple's A10 chip orders, and with its 7nm process is expected to win back Qualcomm's business, the sources noted.

TSMC is scheduled to move 10nm technology to risk production later in 2016, followed by volume production in the second quarter of 2017. TSMC also expects to move a newer 7nm node to risk production in the first half of 2017 followed by volume production a year later.

Intel is also looking to strengthen its foundry business by vying for particular orders from major chips and system vendors including Apple, Nvidia and Qualcomm, the sources suggested. More capacity at Intel's fabs is expected to be available for its foundry customers, the sources said.

In addition, with the fabless IC sector being through a series of consolidation, competition among foundries capable of fabricating most advanced chips is set to become fierce as a number of major fabless firms will continue to reduce, the sources said.

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