Taiwan Electronics Update

Article By : Keesjan Engelen

Keesjan Engelen provides his insights on some of the latest electronics industry developments and its impact on Asia's electronics manufacturing scene.

Looking at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd’s (TSMC) customer list, you’ll immediately note that HiSilicon (Shanghai) Technologies Co. Ltd, the subsidiary of sanctioned Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, fell from 15% to 0, all while TSMC stayed at peak capacity. All wafers just got gobbled up as the world’s hunger for advanced IC’s far outstripped supply.

Intel Corp. will spend $20 billion on two new plants in Arizona, to compete with TSMC and Samsung Electronics Co. in foundry: manufacturing ICs for others. Intel tried and failed at this before, but this time they say they will really offer their clients their best manufacturing technology, whereas before they held back.

In the middle of last year, Intel announced they were not able to make 7nm ICs and had to rely on TSMC instead. Intel said they have caught up on the 7nm node by embracing ASML’s EUV, but I hear they are still a good three years behind TSMC, which is charging ahead—investing $28 billion this year and planning to start shipping 3nm node ICs in 2022. Intel’s alliance with IBM should help.

New fabs in the United States are great to relieve some of the strategic pressure on Taiwan, but it will be hard to find enough people to run them. And who will package all those new ICs? That is quite a specialist field in itself, where Taiwan is dominating as well. ASML, meanwhile, is looking to hire 600 engineers in Taiwan alone.

Meanwhile, the IC shortage in automotive has definitely spilled to other sectors; lead times and prices are going crazy. GPS, 4G radios, etc. are all in 30-week lead times now; some vendors even say come back next year.

For example, we used to buy an STM32 microcontroller in the $2 range. Last week, we had to decide before 12:00 am whether or not we would buy at $12. We confirmed, but when the guys arrived at the Shenzhen distributor to pick up the reels at 13:30, after 30 minutes of shouting, they were left with no choice but to pay $14.

Acer Inc. had a tough week, having been hit by a $50 million ransomware attack. This is the highest in history—just two months after the same group’s $30 million offensive against Hong Kong’s Dairy Farm Group.

Happy 50th birthday to Delta Electronics! Decade-long investment in electric vehicles is finally paying off and the company aims to capture 10% of the $3 billion global market in power and traction components in EVs.


About the Author

Keesjan Engelen is the CEO of Titoma, a mid-sized ODM firm for embedded electronics headquartered in Taiwan. Keesjan has been working in electronics in Taiwan and China for 25 years, and frequently writes about design for manufacturing in Asia. He emphasizes incorporating China components very early on in the design process, without getting yourself locked in.

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