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China five years behind TSMC

by on26 April 2021

Morris Chang says

In a rare public appearance since retiring nearly three years ago, TSMC founder  Morris Chang, the 89 year old founder of the world's largest contract chipmaker, said China is not yet a competitor in chipmaking.

He said that while mainland China has given out subsidies to the tune of tens of billions of US dollars over the past 20 years it is still five years behind TSMC.

"It is logic chip design capability is still one to two years behind the US and Taiwan. The mainland is still not yet a competitor."

In his speech, Chang also took a swipe at Intel, describing its recent decision to enter the contract chip making market as "very ironic" because it turned down an opportunity to invest in TSMC more than three decades ago.

Contract chipmakers like TSMC typically take orders from so-called fabless chip makers like Qualcomm, which design their products but outsource the manufacturing.

Chang said he was rejected by Intel when he approached it for funding in 1985.

 "In the past, Intel was the alpha sneering at us and thought that we would never get big", he said. "They never thought the business of outsourced wafer fabrication would become so important today."

Chang said the US is also at a disadvantage compared with Taiwan because it lacks engineers dedicated to the semiconductor manufacturing sector, adding that the "US level of dedication to manufacturing was no match for Taiwan".

"What I need right now are capable and dedicated engineers, technicians and operators. And they have to be willing to throw themselves into manufacturing", he said. "In the US, doing manufacturing isn't popular. It hasn't been popular for decades."

Last modified on 26 April 2021
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