TSMC boss demands more support from Taiwan

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company boss Morris Chang has called on the Taiwanese government to show his firm a bit more support.

While he said that he wasn’t on the lookout for any handouts or having a pop at authorities, it appears that the chairman of one of the world’s biggest semiconductor firms is looking for a bit of recognition.

He reckons that while it is now one of the top three semi firms, its rivals Intel and Samsung are cherished by its government a lot more.

TSMC has been leading the way with 28 nanometre process manufacturing, it boasts, and has completed tape outs at 20nm. Chang thinks TSMC has done its part in pushing the humble Taiwan into the global forum in semiconductors.

At an event held by President Ma Ying-jeou to honour his achievements, Chang reckons that TSMC is doing plenty for the economy and hopes “society will cherish us”, as over 80 percent of its staff are Taiwanese.  90 percent of its investments are in Taiwan, according to Taipei Times.

So is Chang right in asking for a little more R.E.S.P.E.C.T?  Chip expert and principal analyst at Future Horizons, Malcolm Penn, told TechEye that it is often a problem that governments don’t offer enough support to the semi industry.

“Chips are strategic and TSMC understands this unlike the European, Japanese and most US firms, with the exception of Intel,” he told us. 

“They do not see their strategic value, only seeing a ‘balance sheet/quarterly number goal’ and therefore prefer to take short term fixes rather than long term visions, which TSMC, Samsung and Intel are so good at.”

Penn continues: “Japan’s government doesn’t understand this; I don’t think the US does really either, although New York certainly. But California and Washington? I doubt it.”

Penn does believe that the European Commission is good at supporting the chip industry, recognising the importance of the industry on a global scale.

“Interestingly Europe does understand the importance,” Penn said, “especially the Commission. But they’re let down by an indifferent and unaggressive European semiconductor industry, except in R&D, so IMEC, and equipment, like ASML.

“I don’t think Taiwan’s firms are currently suffering,” Penn told us. “DRAMs aside, which they blatantly screwed up on as have so many before them, especially given TSMC’s 60 percent foundry market share.

“But yes, government support everywhere is needed for the chip industry.

“It may be only a $300 billion market but it drives at least 10 percent of world GDP, and is valued at over $7 trillion.  Now that’s what I call strategic!”