SK Hynix and TSMC branch out into new markets

These few days, SK Hynix and TSMC have announced big news. Let’s start off with TSMC first

TSMC planning to build 22nm/28nm fabs in Japan

TSMC, known as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., is a Taiwanese-based contract chipmaker for much of the industry. With a large majority of manufacturing plants in Taiwan and with the rise of tensions between Taiwan and China, there is an unprecedented need for them to branch out their supply chain. In addition to a global crunch in semiconductor supply due to the pandemic and restrictions around the world, TSMC has made its move.

C.C. Wei, CEO of TSMC has announced that the company will focus on building a fab with a focus on 22nm and 28nm nodes in Japan. This applies to hardware such as microcontrollers, chipsets, and much more. Construction will begin around the 2022 time frame, with mass production expected to begin in 2024. The Japanese government announced a total investment of up to $8.8 Billion(1 trillion yen), but TSMC has yet to disclose anything. The company has received support from investors and the Japanese government but is yet to be approved by the board of directors.

Wei confirmed that as a result of supply chain disruptions the market is currently struggling, and TSMC capacity remains tight in 2021 and throughout 2022. With TSMC building fabs in the US and considering options in Germany, it is clear that they are departing from their regional production chains for production and research.

SK Hynix branching into the CIS market.

Next, SK Hynix has announced that they are expanding into the “Image Sensor” market. SK Hynix is conventionally known for investing in the memory/flash semiconductor market, so this is an unexpected move by them.

Image sensors are used in all sorts of devices, especially within Cameras. This would result in SK Hynix having to compete with Samsung and Sony, two dominant manufacturers with years of experience in the market. Samsung and Sony make up 80% of the combined market share. Vice president of SK Hynix’s CIS business Song Chang-rok states: “Our next goal is to achieve a leading position in the CIS business.”

“Earlier, customers doubted the possibility of SK Hynix for CIS business, but SK Hynix is currently a major supplier of low-pixel image sensors below 13MP. We are strengthening our R&D capabilities and securing productivity to expand to 32MP high-pixel image sensor market.”

It will be undoubtedly interesting to see how the market could shakeup in the near future with these two new announcements.

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