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Semiconductor Industry: Expect Record-high Foundry Investment in 2021

In 2021, TSMC and SEC are expected to make their largest ever foundry investment, focused on advanced process equipment such as EUV. Increased difficulty in 3nm production should intensify the two companies' oligopoly in the latest foundry process.

www.businesskorea.co.kr, Jan. 06, 2021 – 

TSMC to invest more than US$20bn in 2021

TSMC, the number one foundry player, is expected to execute capex of more than US$20bn in 2021 (vs US$17bn in 2020), a record high. Samsung Electronics (SEC) also plans to increase investment in its non-memory businesses from W6tn in 2020 to W12tn in 2021.

The investment hike is attributed to the fact that foundry demand has been increasing significantly compared to supply. With a focus on 5nm process expansion, 3nm process development, and 2nm process R&D, investments will center upon advanced process technologies, including EUV lithography equipment. Related players include ASML in the Netherlands, Lasertec in Japan, and S&S Tech in Korea.

3nm R&D difficulty increases

Meanwhile, TSMC and SEC are facing increasing difficulties in developing the next-generation 3nm process. Some industry insiders believe that TSMC's 3nm test production plan for end 2021 will be delayed by at least 3~4 months. The rising difficulty in process development will likely intensify the oligopoly of TSMC and SEC in the latest process. TSMC's 3nm process integrates two or more transistor fins into a single fin and increases the amount of drive current per fin. It is also necessary to reduce backend parasitic resistance, and there is a high possibility that Ge will be applied to P-channel materials.

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