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TSMC pumps capital, R&D investments

Posted: 07 Oct 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:TSMC capital? R&D? foundry?

Foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd is expected announce by the end of the month that it will, again, increase its capital expenditure and R&D funding in the coming year.

Maria Marced, European president of the Taiwan foundry, told delegates in keynote at Future Horizon's International Electronics Forum that the company would announce "striking figures at its next update for turnover and planned investments."

Earlier this year, the company said it would invest $2.5 billion in the coming year, itself an increase on earlier intentions of spending $1.5 billion.

Marced said there are very positive signals that the recession in the global industry and the semiconductor segment is coming to an end, after demand in Q4 08 fell like a rocket.

The keys to a recovery will be more innovation to create demand, and a crucially important task for improving profitability of the IC sector will mean increasing collaboration by all involved in the food chain, she added.

"Demand will certainly return. All previous recessions have been followed by strong recovery. We must, though, recognize this industry has a problemprofitability and operating margins in the past few years have been dreadful," Marced said.

She also cautioned that increased demand will, to an increasing extent, come from emerging markets "that will require lower price points, and we will need to reduce costs accordingly."

That, she stressed, can only come through collaborating on future process nodes, which will lead to the necessary improvements on return-on-investment and speed time-to-market.

Asked about the proposed merger between GlobalFoundries and Chartered Semiconductor, Marced merely said the company welcomes the competition but added, "With the significant capacity we are installing, any competitor will need to make the enormous investment in fab capacity we are undertaking."

TSMC plans to increase manpower as well over the coming year in R&D, increasing process R&D staff by 30 percent from the current 1200, and a 15 percent increase in the 600 engineering staff involved in design methodologies.

Most of these will be in Taiwan, but there will also be major push in Europe, following TSMC's decision to set up an R&D unit in collaboration with IMEC in Louvain, Belgium, that will mainly focus on production technologies for devices targeting wireless.

- John Walko
EE Times

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