Strong, slow finish for TSMC in 2011

The foundry of the moment, TSMC, has published its fourth-quarter earnings report for 2011, with revenues slightly down, income up and distributing higher earnings this quarter.

TSMC’s business did not benefit from the holiday rush, even when AMD ran to its arms after seeing that GlobalFoundries was a major let-down, but managed to squeeze higher earnings over the preceding quarter.

Cutting edge silicon, such as GPUs and advanced FPGAs are being built on 28nm chippery and in the fourth quarter alone accounted for 2 percent of the company’s wafer production revenue.

40nm represented 27 percent of total wafer revenues and the very mature 65nm node represented 30 percent of the company’s total wafer revenues.

The foundry achieved $1.04 billion (NT$ 31.57billion) net income, down by 22.5 percent from the same period last year, but up 3.9% from Q3/2011.

TSMC is currently one of the two go-to foundries (the other being Samsung) with enough capacity to cater to fabless designers such as Nvidia, AMD, Xilinx, Altera and Qualcomm. Its 28nm wafer output, which – as soon as the company sorts out the kinks – will be its main cash-cow this coming year, so a strong start for 2012 is expected. Major orders are being placed by the main GPU manufacturers – AMD with its 7000 and 7000m series and Nvidia with its new Geforce Kepler chips, both vying for market leadership in the same segment, which should result in some higher-than-average earnings for shareholders this first quarter.