US$150 billion needed in 5 years to catch up with TSMC: IC Insights

Taipei-As the U.S., the EU and China gear up to cultivate their own semiconductor industries, their governments will have to spend at least US$30 billion a year for five years to play catch-up with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., according to U.S.-based market information advisory firm IC Insights.

In a research note posted on its website on Tuesday, IC Insights said that both TSMC and Samsung have taken the lead over their peers in high-end semiconductor process development, as the two have entered mass production of the sophisticated 7-nanometer process and the 5nm process.

Intel Corp., the largest U.S. semiconductor supplier, is scheduled to launch commercial production of the 7nm process in 2022, when TSMC and Samsung are expected to start mass production of the even more advanced 3nm process, IC Insights said, indicating that the U.S. firm is still lagging behind its rivals.

IC Insights cited data as saying that semiconductor companies that have spent the highest levels of capital expenditure are also the suppliers of the most advanced chips.

As for Intel, IC Insights said that "the company spent only about half of what Samsung spent in 2020 and is expected to once again fall far short of what both Samsung and TSMC are expected to spend this year."

IC Insights estimated that TSMC will spend US$25 billion to US$28 billion in capex in 2021, with about US$6.9 billion each quarter on average, which will be double the fourth quarter of last year.

The combined capex of TSMC and Samsung is forecast to total at least US$55.5 billion in 2021, making it unlikely for any other semiconductor makers to rival them in spending, IC Insights said, adding that the two firms are expected to further widen their technology gaps with their competitors due to their large capex.

IC Insights said that even if China has sufficient funds, thorny trade issues it faces could prevent the country from buying some of the most critical pieces of the processing equipment it needs.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel