TSMC allowed to upgrade chip technology in China

TSMC can now use 0.13 micron chip production technology at its Shanghai factory

The Taiwanese government granted chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) permission to start using a more advanced chip technology at a factory in Shanghai, the first time the government has allowed a Taiwanese company to do so.

TSMC can now start using 0.13 micron chip manufacturing technology in China. That is more advanced than the 0.18 micron technology currently allowed by Taiwan law. Taiwan carefully controls technology transfer to China for a variety of reasons, including following international treaties to keep advanced technologies that could be used in weapons-making out of the hands of certain countries as well as its own shaky relationship with China.

Elizabeth Sun, deputy spokesperson at TSMC, said the company welcomed the government's move. She did not know how much demand there might be for the technology.

"The benefit is that it gives us the ability to offer a broader menu to our customers, so we can attract new business," she said.

The chip manufacturing technology is far from TSMC's most advanced. The company is already mass-producing chips in Taiwan using tiny 40-nanometer technology, less a third the size of 0.13 micron (130-nanometer) technology. Companies constantly strive to reduce the size of parts on a chip in order to make chips smaller and operate more efficiently.

Taiwanese regulations mandate that chip process technology must be at least three generations behind the latest technology in order to be allowed to China. TSMC already makes chips using 90nm, 65nm and 40nm and will soon be in mass production at 28nm, which could give it the three generations it will need to go ahead with 90nm in China.

Chips are made on large round silicon wafers. Hundreds of chips can be made on one wafer. The nanometer and micron measurements describe the microscopic size of transistors and other parts on a chip. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, about the size of a few atoms combined.

Sun said 90nm will be tricky. TSMC only uses 90nm process technology on 12-inch silicon wafers and its Shanghai factory is an 8-inch wafer factory. Taipei has not yet given its chip makers permission to build 12-inch wafer factories in China. TSMC has no plans for a 12-inch chip factory in China right now, Sun said.

The company's 8-inch factory in Shanghai currently makes chips on 45,000 silicon wafers per month and will increase output to 48,000 wafers by the end of this year. The company is aiming for production to reach 60,000 to 70,000 wafers per month by the end of 2011. TSMC has factory space to support production of 110,000 wafers per month at its Shanghai facility.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 amid civil war and China has maintained a standing threat to take Taiwan by force if necessary. An arsenal of around 2,000 missiles are aimed at Taiwan from military outposts in China. But despite their strained political relationship, business between the two is booming due to their shared language and culture, and the growing electronics industry in China is attracting more investment from Taiwan.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuesinvestmentsComponentsTaiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?