The cost of offering advanced processes across a suite of products is forcing many foundries out of the bleeding-edge of foundry market, according to a new report from IHS iSuppli research. Only TSMC, Globalfoundries and Samsung Electronics have the funds to offer high-volume capacity at sub-22nm node, says the director and chief analyst of semiconductor manufacturing, Len Jelinek.
“The enormous cost of advanced semiconductor process technology is whittling down the ranks of leading-edge foundries, with just three firms likely to remain at the end of the year,” commented Jelinek. “Unless additional foundries join the party, semiconductor companies will face minimal competitive choices when it comes to advanced chip geometries.”
UMC and SMIC will of course be capable of providing near-leading-edge foundry manufacturing in high volume, at the 32nm and 28nm nodes but not necessarily able to offer high-volume below those nodes.
Much speculation has circulated over how much impact Globalfoundries and more recently, Samsung would have on TSMC’s dominant 50% foundry business market share.
However, since the return to the helm of the foundry a couple of years ago, Morris Chang has pushed spending in both capacity and R&D to new heights in an effort to retain its market leadership. That battle is expected to play-out over the next few years.
Jelinek noted that Japan could fall-out of the technology race at the 32nm node, while On Semiconductor has the potential to become a powerful niche player should it succeed in fully integrating Sanyo’s recently acquired chip business.