4. TSV delays? Chip scaling is showing no signs of hitting the wall--yet. But one alternative path--3-D technology based on through-silicon vias (TSVs)--continues to generate steam.
In years' past, TSMC provided a roadmap for its TSV production efforts. At this year's event, the company was low-key about TSVs. It didn't provide a timeline to develop the technology, nor did it give us a real progress report. ''We're still in the early stages'' with TSVs, said Shang-yi Chiang, TSMC's senior vice president of research and development.
Translation: Cost and complexity is still a problem with TSVs. Or perhaps TSV has been delayed at TSMC and elsewhere.
5. FinFET city. Seeking to take the lead in the silicon foundry business, TSMC will jump directly from 28- to the 20-nm "half node" process technology.
What's after the 20-nm node? Chiang believes that 20-nm could be the last year that TSMC uses a CMOS planar process. After bulk silicon, TSMC is banking on the FinFET as the next-generation transistor. For years, TSMC has been looking at the FinFET, a double-gate transistor. The surprise is that TSMC appears to have already made a decision on that technology. Other leading-edge chip makers are still exploring multi-gate structures.
6. TSMC branded LEDs. In March, TSMC held a groundbreaking ceremony for an R&D center and wafer fab to develop and make light emitting diodes (LEDs) for lighting applications.
The move marks a major change at TSMC, which has until this point been focused on the foundry supply of integrated circuits. In fact, TSMC will not provide foundry services for LED makers. Instead, the company will develop and sell LEDs under the ''TSMC brand,'' according to a TSMC spokesman. TSMC will not compete against its customers, the spokesman insisted.
7. Solar strategy. TSMC is still exploring its strategy in solar. Like LEDs, the company may sell solar panels and the associated modules under its own name, the company hinted. Don't look for a solar foundry service. I don't know for certain, but TSMC may be even mulling plans to jump into the utility business.