On paper, two companies have mastered the engraving of so-called latest generation processors in extreme ultraviolet (EUV), the Taiwanese TSMC and the Korean Samsung.
But in a context where demand for semiconductors is exploding – hence the shortage – and where Samsung’s sales in this area are increasing in volume (+ 8%), the chaebol wobbles. Its profits fell by 16% and its market share fell by one point against a TSMC which weighed more than half (56%!) Of world chip orders in the first quarter.
While Samsung is good at 7nm engraving, the company is struggling with the yields to launch mass production of the 5nm EUV. Why ? Because she has a serious machinery problem.
More specifically, Samsung is unable to buy so many steppers EUV that she would like. Only one company in the world has succeeded in developing these latest generation machines, the Dutch ASML, and TSMC has placed its pawns, and taken care of its supplier. Thus, more than 70% of EUV machines that leave ASML factories go directly to TSMC.
The Taiwanese actor therefore reigns supreme over the global production of extra-thin chips, and becomes the sole supplier of giants like Apple, AMD, Qualcomm, etc. for the chips that make the most money.
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Nikkei Asia, which highlights Samsung’s difficulties – its 5nm EUV plant has still not entered production while TSMC promises 3nm at the end of 2022! – worries about the Korean giant. Because if the 116 billion dollars (104 billion euros) of its ten-year plan may seem important to the neophyte, TSMC goes much further. He also plans to invest at least $ 100 billion … over three years!
To stay in the race, Samsung will have to go much further. A question of survival according to Nikkei Asia, which notes that orders for semiconductors (mainly memory chips) and smartphones – which partly depend on available chips – represent 60% of the Korean’s turnover.
Source : Nikkei Asia