TSMC extends its ability to make different kinds of chips

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is broadening the repertoire of chips that it can build so that its customers have more freedom to design new kinds of chips.

The Taiwanese contract chip manufacturer hopes to inspire a new wave of chip design innovation. TSMC is extending its Open Innovation Platform to focus on system level design tools. It will also enable chip designers to use tools that let them add more analog/mixed signal, radio frequency, and three-dimensional features to their chips.

It may be hard for lay people to get excited about this. But for TSMC’s customers, it means they will be able to create more chips that can meet the needs of today’s most demanding consumer gadgets, such as smartphones that have the brains of computers, clear reception, good battery life and low manufacturing costs.

TSMC originally launched its Open Innovation Platform in 2008 to spur new designs, which are getting increasingly expensive and more complicated to do. The platform helps customers get their designs to market faster, improve their return on investment, and reduce the inefficiencies in design infrastructure. The original platform helped chip makers address making more efficient chip designs; this latest extension helps them create cheaper systems with the proper packaging around chips so that the overall systems can be more cost efficient, said Fu-Chieh Hsu, vice president of design technology at TSMC.

TSMC has more than 30 partners among chip design tool software makers, 38 chip intellectual property partners, 23 design center partners, and nine value chain aggregators (partners who help broker TSMC’s services). TSMC is the world’s biggest contract chip manufacturer, or foundry, with more than $10 billion in sales last year. Last year, it made more than 9.96 million wafers, which can be sliced into hundreds of individual chips.