Trade war and TSMC’s finite foundry capacity threaten high-performance semi market

On the bright side, the market for 7nm semis is booming; on the flip side, capacity is constrained

Jon Peddie

In a recent Digitimes report, TSMC's clients, are jostling for slots for the foundry's 7-nm production as strong demand from the smartphone makers and for the advanced node has resulted in tight supply and extended lead time. TSMC, says Digitimes, is expected to set aside more budgets for expanding capacity for its advanced process. 

TSMC has extended its 7-nm production lead time from two months to nearly six months according to “industry sources.”

AMD’s gains against Intel could be impacted if they can’t get parts. Nvidia’s forthcoming 7-nm super GPU might be delayed, while Intel gets its 10-nm act together and launches its dGPU.

But then those chips, if they get built, have to be stuck on a plank of fiberglass, tested, boxed, and shipped from—China?

Several assembly houses in China are moving to Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia to avoid the 25% import tax imposed on U.S. consumers by president Trump. However, that can’t happen overnight and could take from six months to a year before meaningful production comes out of those other countries.

But remember, TSMC extending its delivery time doesn’t mean the foundry is delaying production, it means it is running at full capacity so a lot of 7-nm chips are going to get built.

TSMC’s 7, moving to 5-nm fab. (Source: TSMC)