March 04, 2013, anysilicon
I have the utmost respect for TSMC. For their advanced technology; for the quality of their products; for their ecosystem; and for their contribution to the industry. In fact, TSMC has become so big – that it will take a while until the second ranked foundry can catch up.
The deep sub-micron technology, particularly 28nm and below, has made the foundry business a game of investment, allocation and cash flow. Don’t get me wrong, the semiconductor business is still about technology innovation, but in today’s consumer market a shortage in 28nm wafer supply means less tablets and diminished phone production. Can the economy afford that?
Without a doubt, access to 28nm fabs has become a reason to fight for. 28nm process node introduced many advantages which are helping generate a competitive edge. Therefore, many components used in smartphones and tablets are based on 28nm technology, and tight access to the fab means securing the supply chain.
There are only a few giants that can build a new fab: Samsung, Intel, TSMC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, ST and perhaps one or two more. So many end products and so few fabs. The fab is becoming extremely critical. But will it become the bottleneck?
In the meanwhile, a large company that changed its name from Apple Computers to just Apple is continuously accumulating capital and searching for a way to achieve a sustainable competitive edge.
Apple has been shopping for chip companies since 2008. They bought a memory company called Anobit in December 2011, acquired Intrinsity in April 2010, and P.A Semi in April 2008. If you wonder why Apple is buying chip companies it because they provide Apple an advantage and at the same time Apple blocks its competitors from accessing these wonderful technologies.
Apple is “eating” more of the supply chain, using its capital to buy chip technology and gain a competitive advantage. With all the capital that Apple has in the bank, could the next step be the takeover of TSMC?