SAN JOSE, Calif. – It’s a rare treat to get a chance to ask a few questions of Morris Chang, the man who invented the semiconductor foundry model when he helped found Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. back in 1987. The man referred to within TSMC simply as “chairman” typically travels to the U.S. just once a year.
At age 81, he strode on to the stage at the San Jose Convention Center here and gave a keynote address at the annual TSMC Symposium. He used few slides and no notes, recounting the state of the industry in the past year, his forecast for the year to come (four percent growth) and the state and outlook of the world’s largest maker of logic wafers.
Two reporters and a customer approached him afterwards with a handful of questions. He answered them thoughtfully before being whisked away to whatever was next on his itinerary.
Q: Are reports TSMC will build a new fab in the U.S. true?
Morris Chang: There has been no decision. Building a new fab is a big decision. A new fab now costs $5 billion.
We have 20 fabs in Taiwan, and that’s an advantage because when a machine goes down in one plant we can ship one over from another. You can’t do that for a fab in the US.
What’s your view of Intel as a competitor now that it is making chips for a handful of companies?Chang:
We have always had competitors. They come and go. [As a microprocessor maker] Intel potentially competes with its customers. Samsung is in some ways more aggressive in the foundry business as is GlobalFoundries.Q:
Will price pressures continue to be so stiff this year?Chang:
I’ve never seen an end to price pressure.Q:
What’s the outlook for Moore’s Law now that process nodes seem to be getting more complex and offering diminishing benefits?Chang:
It looks like we have another seven to eight years ahead in advances -- maybe more -- we can see in technology down to 10 and even 7 nm.Q:
What do you think people need to know about TSMCChang:
I think people particularly in the US just don’t know us that well. They know about Apple and Intel and Google -- but not so much about TSMC.Related stories: