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Thread: TSMC Threat to Intel in Everything but Memory

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    TSMC Threat to Intel in Everything but Memory

    TSMC with its combination of deep experience with ARM processors and InFO packaging it is going to become a serious threat to Intel's core processor business. With Microsoft going to supporting ARM processors and HPC already using ARM processors in the data center, TSMC is now in the position to go after Intel's core business. Since they have recently passed Intel in market cap, they are now in a position to be the dominant player in high end chips for both fixed and mobile applications. Combine this with their moves into MEMS combined with other technologies where InFO packaging gives them an additional edge and this puts TSMC in the position to even more dominate the foundry market and even pass Samsung in chip production. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next year or two. It looks like the Wintel alliance has seen better days. It looks like Intel may again revert to its original strength in memory with 3DXpoint, which it shares with Micron. Full disclosure, I hold interests in MU and TSM.

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    Intel's advantage in memory is probably more well-grounded in the 3D NAND rather than 3D XPoint. The 3D XPoint has been confirmed to be phase change memory with an ovonic threshold selector: Intel 3D XPoint Memory Die Removed from Intel Optane™ PCM (Phase Change Memory). These materials are not that easy to work with.

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    Personally I think Intel is Intel's biggest threat. They keep missing markets and spending billions of dollars playing catch-up only to give up. Mobile, Wearables, FPGAs, Foundry, etc... Fortunately for Intel, AMD or ARM or anyone else has not made progress in the CPU business but that day will come, absolutely, especially since the foundries now have the process advantage. Just my opinion of course but I would not want to be an Intel executive hoping to end their career on a high note.

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    Now available in print or Kindle: "Mobile Unleashed: The Origin and Evolution of ARM Processors In Our Devices"

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    Arthur,

    Intel and TSMC both manufacture ICs, so yes, they are comparable in one sense, however TSMC will fabricate any customer design. In fact, TSMC even fabricates chips for Intel. TSMC does not design their own chips, or sell their own silicon as a standard part on the open market.

    Intel is an Integrated Device Manufacturer (IDM) and own their own fab, which may seem to be a subtle distinction. Intel sells its chips to customers that then build systems. Yes, Intel also has a foundry business that competes with TSMC's foundry business.

    TSMC wants to fill up their fab with customer-designed parts.

    Intel wants to fill up their fab with Intel-designed parts.

    TSMC is not in any sense of the word a product competitor to Intel, because TSMC doesn't design or sell an IC as a product.

    TSMC doesn't really care which customers bring a core to them for fabrication, they are architecture-agnostic, they simply want to fabricate parts for their customers. TSMC is not aiming at Intel's data center, they are just fabricating ICs that their customers bring to them. If an Intel competitor chooses to fabricate at TSMC, then that is not equivalent to saying that TSMC is competing with Intel. TSMC is serving their customer, and that customer is competing with Intel.

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    Dan P. I think you missed the point, TSM enables the competition to Intel by giving them access to a world beating fab. Yes, technically TSM is not beating Intel, they are the enabler that allows EVVERYONE ELSE to attack Intel's various markets. In the process of doing this, TSM will concentrate with laser focus on the process. TSM is the threat, for if they didn't exist, it would be much harder to attack Intel's market. This process is already well under way and will continue to turn up the heat on Intel. Instead of one competitor, TSM enables many, many competitors on every front. I doubt they will become a fab for memory, but you never know.

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    Last edited by Arthur Hanson; 05-30-2017 at 12:06 PM.
     

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    I worked at Zilog (wrote PL/Z machine code generator). Intel started as a memory
    manufacturer. At the height of Z80 popularity, Intel was considering going back to
    memory. Maybe now they really will become a memory manufacturer again.

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    smeyer,
    Intel never liked the boom-bust cycles that define the volatile memory market, however if they acquired Micron then it could make sense for Intel to re-enter the memory market in a bigger way.

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    TSMC may not want to directly go into commodity memory manufacturing business. But they might be forming a partnership with Hon Hai/Foxconn and Apple to take over Toshiba's memory division. Hon Hai can take care the operations, Apple provides steady orders and financial backing as needed, and TSMC provides advance memory and manufacturing technologies. This is purely my own speculation.

    The benefit is Apple can secure their long term memory supply at the same time Hon Hai and TSMC secure their long term relationship with Apple. Furthermore, they are making their common enemy Samsung's life a little bit harder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hist78 View Post
    TSMC may not want to directly go into commodity memory manufacturing business. But they might be forming a partnership with Hon Hai/Foxconn and Apple to take over Toshiba's memory division. Hon Hai can take care the operations, Apple provides steady orders and financial backing as needed, and TSMC provides advance memory and manufacturing technologies. This is purely my own speculation.

    The benefit is Apple can secure their long term memory supply at the same time Hon Hai and TSMC secure their long term relationship with Apple. Furthermore, they are making their common enemy Samsung's life a little bit harder.
    TSMC dropped out of the bidding contest for Toshiba's NAND Flash. Customers probably find it cheaper to get high-density memory from current suppliers rather than ask TSMC to make it.

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    The following should be considered: Poor old Intel. No flash profits for you • The Register

    Intel NVM Solutions Group operating losses;

      • First quarter 2017 - $129m
      • Fourth quarter 2016 -$91m
      • First quarter 2016 - $95m


    "Losses were driven by the company’s ongoing investments in 3D NAND and its 3D XPoint development." "However, the company expects to run at breakeven for the core business in 2H2017 and be profitable for the entire non-volatile memory business near the end of 2018."

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    Last edited by Fred Chen; 06-04-2017 at 07:21 AM.
     

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