Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is confident that it will lead its competitors in using 5-nanometer technology, as it plans to start initial chip in 1H 2019, while no clear plan has been unveiled by rival Samsung Electronics.
Speaking during the company's 17th annual Supply Chain Management forum, an event held today in Taipei, the company's co-chief executive officer Mark Liu said that the firm has about 6,000 research and development (R&D) personnel working on the development of 5-nanometer technology.
TSMC this year plans to increase R&D spending by 15 percent from last year, alongside a capital expenditure of US$10 billion, to boost its technology leadership, Liu said.
TSMC has also tasked several hundred R&D personnel with the initial development of 3-nanometer technology and is evaluating a fab site for 3-nanometer chip production, he added.
In 2016, TSMC successfully brought 10nm technology into volume production and paved much of the way for risk production qualification of 7nm technology. Liu said 3,000 engineers and 1,500 technicians are working to ship a small volume of 10nm chips this quarter. The volume will increase rapidly from the second quarter, he said.
Regarding the 7nm manufacturing process, Liu said the company is confident that it will stay ahead of its major competitors in ramping up 7nm chip production. TSMC is set to start initial 7nm chip production at the end of this quarter, followed by mass production next year.
TSMC has reportedly been tapped as a major chip supplier using the 10nm technology for Apple's new iPhone models.
TSMC gained a 65 to 70 percent share of the world's 16-nanometer chip market and 80 percent share of the 28-nanometer chip market, the firm said.
South Korean rival Samsung Electronics today launched its first Exynos processor built on the company's 10 nanometer FinFet process technology, the company said in a statement.
Samsung has said it would introduce 7nm chips around the same time as TSMC next year.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich recently said the company would invest $7 billion to complete the construction of an advanced chip facility in Arizona and begin testing and researching its 7nm technology but did not reveal a production schedule.
But neither Intel nor Samsung has said whether they plan to develop 5- and 3nm chips.
Meanwhile, Intel said it will start shipping 10nm chips for personal computers this year.