Less than 6 days left! TSMC and others refused to hand over industry secrets, and the United States or forced to split the business?

Time is running out for Samsung and TSMC. On September 24 this year, the United States issued a requirement that chip manufacturers such as Samsung must hand over the specific information of 14 projects including customer order volume, inventory situation and production increase plan in the past three years (2018-2021) before November 8. . With this in mind, there are less than 6 days left until the deadline.

Since late September, the South Korean government has been “mediating” with the United States on this matter, and so far it has not been able to ease the tension between the United States. TSMC also stated early in the morning that it will resolutely safeguard the rights and interests of customers and will not act on the face of the United States. However, considering the special status of TSMC in the global semiconductor foundry industry, Observer.com reported on November 1 that the United States may take the opportunity to “manipulate” TSMC, and may even force TSMC to split its business.

A representative of the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association pointed out that generally speaking, customers will sign a non-disclosure agreement when they hand over an order to a foundry. If the relevant information is submitted according to the idea of ​​the United States, it means a breach of contract and will face the risk of customer prosecution. On the other hand, there are concerns about market competition. If these key information are leaked to industry competitors, future performance may be damaged.

However, there are also Japanese media analysis that Samsung, a Korean company, has launched a plan to build a new chip factory in the United States, and plans to harvest a wave of chip subsidies from the United States, so maybe the United States will give some “sweetness”, and Samsung’s attitude will have variables.

TSMC also has a part in what prompted Samsung to change its decision. As early as May 2020, TSMC announced plans to build a 5nm chip factory in the United States, which has been in operation for some time now. However, TSMC has a lot of “grievances” about building a factory in the United States. On October 1, Liu Deyin, chairman of TSMC, publicly stated that the cost of building a factory in the United States far exceeded the group’s expectations.

On October 28, the founder of TSMC, Zhang Zhongmou, also bluntly pointed out that the United States is simply dreaming to rebuild the semiconductor industry chain. Excessive costs and lack of competitiveness have led to “retreat”. This move is regarded by the outside world as a rhetoric against the United States, implying that the United States will take it as soon as possible and not be aggressive.

The analysis pointed out that although the global supply of all kinds of chips is currently in short supply, there are many people who can expand production such as 28nm chips, and it may only be a matter of time to fill the market gap; Samsung and TSMC are the only two foundries in the world that can produce 7nm and 5nm advanced process chips, which can be said to be in an absolute monopoly position.

The only seed that can “make chips” in the United States – Intel is the global chip leader, but the American giant has no way to mass-produce 7nm chips, and its wafer production capacity ranks sixth in the world. In the case of Intel’s lack of power, another American technology giant, Apple, even developed its own chips and replaced the chip foundry with TSMC.

Throughout the history of the development of the semiconductor industry, it often happens that huge companies are “split”. Recently, it has been reported that the chip production capacity has been booked until 2023. GlobalFoundries (full name “GlobalFoundries”), its predecessor was AMD (Super Micro Semiconductor)’s chip manufacturing department. At that time (2008), AMD felt that GF was a burden to its group development, and then split it up. So, if TSMC is unwilling to hand over confidential information this time, will the United States overlord it?

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