Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC), United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC); the three big semiconductor companies of Taiwan and China capture nearly 70% of semiconductor foundry market. While TSMC is too much ahead of other two both in terms of market share and also in terms of technology, but the catch-up is getting closer. UMC reducing the technology gap with TSMC faster with 28 nm production already successfully happening and is fast moving towards 14nm within next 12-18 months. The China-based SMIC though started 28 nm production with some media reports pointing yield issues, is scheduling 14 nm production before 2020.
United Microelectronics Corporation has collaborated with ARM to tape out 14nm FinFET test chip to validate ARM Cortex-A family core on the advanced foundry process node. UMC said it has already demonstrated 14nm FinFET process in fabricating 128mb SRAM and is expected to be ready for customer tape-out by late 2015.
SMIC, Huawei, imec, and Qualcomm have together invested to form a new company called SMIC Advanced Technology Research & Development (Shanghai) Corporation to build 14nm chips in China. Majority is owned by SMIC, while Huawei, imec, and Qualcomm will be minority shareholders. Imec to provide know-how in advanced semiconductor processing technology. The new R&D project will be done at SMIC's production line. SMIC expects all this to facilitate the mass production of 16/14nm ICs in China by 2020, goals set by China.
Huawei and Qualcomm, who are fabless chip design companies in the big telecom market investing now to leverage SMIC foundry strengths, so that they can compete on the cost factor too.