Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, will benefit from the development of more advanced electric vehicles because its chips can satisfy the cars’ high-performance computing (HPC) needs, according to an expert in the field.
In an interview with CNA, Ray Yang (楊瑞臨), a supervisor at the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center, said sophisticated chips are needed to power the vehicles, especially those with self-driving functions.
Smaller contract chipmakers such as U.S.-based GlobalFoundries and Taiwan’s United Microelectronics have halted their pursuit of advanced technologies, leaving TSMC, Samsung Electronics Co., and Intel Corp. to compete with each other in the field, Yang said.
Among the three, only TSMC and Samsung are able to provide chips made using the 5 nanometer process for EV use, he said.
In particular, TSMC has been developing the “N5A” technology since the beginning of this year. It is based on TSMC’s current 5nm process, the most advanced technology being mass produced by the Taiwanese chipmaker.
Yang said the N5A process, scheduled to hit the market in the third quarter of 2022, is expected to bring the HPC chips usually used to produce supercomputers to EV development, giving it a chance to capitalize on EV market opportunities.
According to a recent study by Digitimes Research, as governments aggressively promote EVs as part of their environmental policies, EV sales are expected to grow at least 17 percent a year over the next five years and hit 9.74 million units in 2025.
Among international EV brands, Tesla has unveiled D1 chips made using the 7nm process — a less advanced technology than the 5nm process — that can make 362 trillion “floating-point” (the most common way real numbers are represented in computers) per second.
The chips will serve as AI training machines, helping strengthen self-driving capabilities.
TSMC CEO C.C. Wei (魏哲家) has said EVs will become a complicated HPC platform, and the semiconductor industry is expected to take control of a wide range of applications including sensors, digital cabins, and wireless communications.
Beyond the N5A process, TSMC can supply complementary metal-oxide-semiconductors for imaging sensor production by using its 28nm, 22nm and 16nm processes for EV use, a move expected to help the company secure a larger share of the market, Yang said.
In mid-July, TSMC said it was assessing the feasibility of setting up production sites in Japan and Germany, and Yang said the potential moves reflected TSMC’s ambition to target the auto markets in those two countries.
In terms of the Japanese market, Yang said TSMC is likely to supply chips from a factory in the country for clients such as Sony Corp.