As the semiconductor industry sees a growing need for mature process nodes, speciality technologies for applications in IoT and automobiles are also growing in importance. TSMC, above all, targets to increase the share of its speciality processes to 60% of its mature processes this year, surpassing 50% for the first time, marking a new height. Three years ago, speciality technologies accounted for only 45% of TSMC’s mature processes. With TSMC simultaneously expanding its capacity for mature nodes this year, it is estimated that the capacity for speciality technologies, especially from 28nm to 16nm, will grow by 12% as well.
Overall, mature technologies are estimated to account for half of TSMC’s revenue in Q2, 2021. Notably, TSMC’s 28nm process has a capacity of 180,000 wafers per month, the largest in the world. This particular node has been focal to the foundry’s global strategy as well: in February, TSMC decided to expand its 28nm capacity in China, initially scheduling a capacity of 4,000 wafers per month, and later expanding it to 100,000 wafers per month, marking the largest ever expansion of its mature technology in the past seven years. Moreover, industry insiders suggested that TSMC’s potential fabs in Germany and Japan would likely use the 28nm node too.
Generally, TSMC’s speciality technologies portfolio includes MEMS, CMOS Image Sensor, Embedded NVM, RF, Analog, High Voltage, and BCD-Power processes. When it comes to Mixed Signal/RF CMOS (MS/RF) technology, TSMC accounts for 70% of the market.
In 2018, using its 28nm RF (28HPC+ RF) technology, TSMC delivered the industry’s first RF process design kit (PDK) in support of the 110GHz mmWave and 150°C automotive grade needed by 5G mmWave RF and automotive radar product designs. In 2019, TSMC also developed the 28nm Embedded Flash technology for automobile electronics and micro controller units (MCU). The 28nm node also supports TSMC’s CMOS Image Sensor technology.
For 16nm speciality technologies, TSMC’s 16nm FinFET Compact Technology (16 FFC) RF led the foundry to start volume production of 5G mobile network chips for customers in 2018. This technology has been extended to the next generation Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN 802.11ax) and mmWave applications, as well as to wireless connectivity applications.
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