TSMC ramps production to build Intel Atoms

TSMC is to ramp monthly production at its 300mm Fab 14 in southern Taiwan to 6,000 wafers by the end of 2009, and 35,000 wafers in 2010, due to demand for Intel’s Atom chips, say industry observers. TSMC remains quiet, citing customer confidentiality.

TSMC is to use Fab 14 as its main processor production plant as it begins working with Intel on the Atom platform. According to Digitimes, TSMC shifted processor production from Fab 12 to Fab 14 earlier in the year and the foundry is now purchasing backend packaging and testing equipment and plans to allocate capacity of 5,000-6,000 wafers for production of Intel Atom-based processors on a 40nm process.

Earlier this year, Intel and TSMC announced they were to collaborate on production of the Atom SOC processor. Intel said it planned to port Atom to the TSMC technology platform including processes, IP, libraries, and design flows, enabling Intel to use TSMC to bring Atom to a wider range of applications and compete against ARM in the mobile arena.

At the time the agreement was announced, Intel stressed it would not be offloading all Atom production to TSMC. Analysts reckon that some five million Atoms were produced in the last quarter of 2008 and that the chip giant was making ‘significant’ losses on each one shipped.

TSMC is also reported to be gearing up to produce Intel’s upcoming Larrabee graphics chips, although Intel was at pains to point out that the ones showcased at IDF this week had not been sourced from the Taiwanese outfit.