Semiconductors and Components

Apple Could Be Driving TSMC's Record Sales

10 September 2014

Leading foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) reported record sales in August 2014 of NT$69.28 billion (about $2.31 billion), a increase of 6.7 percent from July 2014 and an increase of 25.8 percent over August 2013.

This followed a similar 24.6 percent year-on-year increase in TSMC's July sales of NT$ 64.92 billion (about $2.16 billion). These figures show a marked jump from the previous two months were annual sales increases were 11.7 and 17.4 percent and apparently reflect the "Apple effect" as TSMC has been manufacturing millions of 64-bit A8 microprocessors for use by Apple in its iPhone 6.

TSMC's revenues for January through August 2014 totalled NT$465.44 billion (about $15.51 billion), an increase of 17.6 percent compared to the same period in 2013.

The A8 processor was designed by Apple engineers, based on an architecture license from ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England), and it is believed that Apple has been lead customer for TSMC's 20nm planar CMOS manufacturing process. Shipments were reported to have started in July and could add considerable upside to TSMC's third quarter financial results.

The ramping of the 20nm CMOS planar process is reckoned to be one of the fastest ever conducted in the industry. What remains unclear is what sort of manufacturing yields are being enjoyed on the process and how the financial risk has been split between Apple and its supplier.

NXP Semiconductors NV (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) is also expected to benefit from the "Apple effect" as it reportedly announced it would supply Apple with near field communication (NFC) chips to enable smartphone payments by iPhone. NXP may also have benefitted as supplier of the M8 sensor hub IC. The M7, deployed in the iPhone 5, was reported to be the LPC18A1 microcontroller from NXP.

Further evidence for Apple driving TSMC's sales come from examination of the sales reports from rival foundry UMC, also based in Hsinchu. UMC's sales in July were flat compared with a year before while its August sales were NT$11.41 billion (about $380 million), up 3.8 percent compared with August 2013.

This suggests that TSMC's sales boom is company-specific rather than industry-wide.

UMC's sales for the year through August were NT$90.52 billion (about $3.02 billion) up 10.1 percent compared with the same period in 2013.

Related links and articles:

IHS semiconductor manufacturing research

News articles:

Apple Reveals iPhone 6

TSMC Forecasts 2014 Boom

TSMC Gets Ready to Enjoy Apple Booster

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