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TSMC seeing tight capacity for cryptocurrency mining chips

Mar. 15, 2018 – 

TSMC's 16nm and 12nm process production capacity has been tight in the first quarter of 2018 driven by strong demand for GPUs and ASICs for cryptocurrency mining, according to industry sources. A surge in cryptocurrency mining chip orders is set to boost the pure-play foundry's sales performance in the first half of 2018.

TSMC has obtained the majority of orders for custom ASICs for cryptocurrency mining, but tight supply at the foundry has prompted several ASIC developers, such as Baikal Miner, to shift their orders to Samsung Electronics, the sources indicated.

Samsung has seen orders for cryptocurrency mining chips ramp up, said the sources, adding that Baikal and some China-based designers have contracted the Korea-based vendor to manufacture their mining ASICs using 14nm and 10nm process technologies.

Orders for cryptocurrency mining chips have become a new driver of TSMC's and Samsung's profit growths, the sources said. Both chipmakers have seen chip orders for smartphones slow down as the smartphone market continues to become saturated.

In addition, while enjoying the ramp-up of cryptocurrency mining chip orders, TSMC has seen orders for Apple's 10nm A11 SoC fall substantially in the first quarter of 2018, the sources observed. Nevertheless, the impact of a slowdown in Apple's chip orders on TSMC's first-quarter revenues will be offset partially by growing demand for mining ASICs, the sources noted.

Bitmain Technologies and Canaan Creative, the current leading suppliers of Bitcoin mining solutions, reportedly partner with TSMC to fabricate mining chips.

In related news, TSMC is scheduled to enter 7nm chip production in small volume in June, according to the sources. Sales generated from 7nm process technology will start generating revenues substantially in the third quarter of 2018, and are expected to account for about 10% of TSMC's overall revenues in 2018.

TSMC's 7nm process has reportedly attracted orders for Apple's A12 SoC, as well as orders from over 40 clients, including MediaTek, Xilinx, Nvidia, AMD and Qualcomm, the sources indicated.

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