Nearly all of the contracted chips inside the 200,000 iPhone sold last week in the United States were built by silicon-foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), according to industry insiders.
The insiders pointed out that put aside the core chips from integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) like Samsung Electronics, Intel, Texas Instruments (TI) and STMicroelectronics, all the chips from fabless houses inside Apple’s iPhone were processed at TSMC.
Wolfson, Marvel, Skyworks, CSR, and Broadcom contracted TSMC to build the audio chip, WiFi wireless chip, GSM power-amplify chip, Bluetooth chip, and touch-screen chip inside the convergence handheld device bundle music, multimedia and communications capabilities.
Some Taiwanese chip assemblers pointed out that partly thanks to the new handheld gadgets world chip industry would begin bottoming out this quarter.
Industry watchers pointed out that all the chips inside iPhone use processes from 90-nanometer to 0.13-micron geometry nodes. They noted that iPhone rollout would help boost TSMC’s capacity utilization.
TSMC’s executives said yesterday the company’s 200-mm wafer fabs is running at full capacity earlier than expected and its 300-mm fabs will likely run at full capacity sometime in the third quarter mostly thanks to 65-nm contracts.
However, the executives are cautious about business for the fourth quarter considering the regularly seasonal factor. So far, TSMC and rival United Microelectronics Corp. have not seen considerable contracts for fourth quarter delivery, according to industry insiders.
TSMC’s executives pointed out that the company’s customers of contract PC and telecommunications chips had so far placed orders only until the middle of October this year, suggesting they have no intention to increase inventory.
UMC’s executives pointed out that inventory adjustment is unavoidable in the fourth quarter and capacity utilization rate for that quarter will definitely recess from the third quarter. The only positive side is that the recession will not likely return to the low point of the market cycle of the first quarter this year.
Some foreign institutional investors estimated TSMC’s wafer shipment for the third quarter would increase 30% from the second quarter and capacity utilization this quarter to soar past the 100% mark to 102%. The third quarter is normally the peak season for the chip industry.
In the second quarter, the boomer-than-expected telecom market drove up TSMC’s wafer shipments by 20% from a quarter earlier and boosted its capacity utilization to 96%.
Anticipated inventories of the fourth quarter have raised fears that TSMC’s wafer shipments for next quarter would slip 6% from this quarter.