Taiwan chip-making trio combine to build five new cutting-edge factories

Chip-building giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), along with Powerchip Semiconductor and Vanguard will invest a combined $14.7 billion USD on five new chip fabrication plants.

The new facilities, situated at the Hsinchu Science Park, will include an advanced 300mm wafer plant to make computer and other electronic chips and will create an estimated 10,000 new jobs. TSMC alone will hire 3,000 additional workers.

“We will have both R&D and manufacturing in the new plants,” said TSMC spokesman J.H. Tzeng to Reuters.

TSMC, the world’s largest contract maker of semiconductors, said that it will contribute to just over a third of the overall investment into the new plants. TSMC will be responsible for the fourth and fifth phases of Fab 12 in the northern Taiwan industrial area, according to Trading Markets.

“Phases four and five will provide manufacturing services as well,” Tzeng added. “Our plan is to invest five billion US dollars there for research and development of 32nm, 22nm and 15nm process technologies.”

TSMC’s current 12-inch wafer facilities focus on 90nm, 65nm and 45nm technologies. In 2006, TSMC approved a $1.13 billion project to expand the company’s 300mm wafer fabrication plants.  Famous TSMC clients include NVIDIA and AMD's graphics division.

TSMC on Monday posted a 38 percent rise in sales as compared to the same period a year earlier, though were 6 percent below the previous month’s performance.

The five new plants are expected to reach an estimated production value of $9.8 billion yearly between the three companies.

Powerchip, Taiwan’s largest memory chip maker, will spend $8.1 billion on the factories to create more advanced memory technologies, reported Bloomberg.

Frank Huang, chairman of Powerchip, believes that there will be great demand for chips later this year. “There will be a chip shortage from the fourth quarter of this year,” he said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Existing Powerchip facilities will be re-tooled for the production of NAND flash technologies, popularly used for storage in portable devices such as MP3 players and mobiles. Powerchip also has additional factories dedicated to making flash memory.

The upcoming facilities in the Hsinchu Science Park will expand Powerchip’s DRAM capacity by 30,000 wafers monthly, taking the company to 260,000 wafers by the end of 2009.

Vanguard, the third company investing in the new facilities, was not available to comment on its projections for the endeavor.

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