The 2012 capital expenditure forecast for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) will show whether the world's largest contract chip maker will win orders for Apple Inc.'s new processor, a Taipei-based analyst said Wednesday.
The market anticipates that Apple will give TSMC the orders for its A6 processor that is used in new iPhones and iPads, in an effort to diversify its risks after working with Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea for years.
But Andrew Lu, managing director of Barclays Capital Securities Taiwan, said the A6 orders have already been taken by Samsung and U.S.-based GlobalFoundries.
"The A6 processor will not be made by TSMC, as Samsung and GlobalFoundries have signed a deal to switch production capacity to absorb Apple's orders," Lu said at the Market Trend Forum held by the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI).
"But TSMC may win orders from Apple next year for its next- generation processor, codenamed 'AX' that adapts ARM's design architecture and combines a 3D (three-dimensional) integrated circuit with a memory chip, " Lu said.
If the AX processor can be adapted in Apple's mainstream products, such as iPhones and iPads, TSMC will need to install equipment for 28 nanometer processes, which will require US$4 billion (NT$116.4 billion) to US$5 billion in capital expenditure in 2012, Lu said.
It will lead to a year-on-year downward revision of less than 20 percent of TSMC's capital expenditure next year, compared with 40 percent to 50 percent drop that investors had forecast to fill TSMC's gap of over-supply and higher depreciation, he said.
According to Lu, iPhone shipments have reached 7-8 million units per month, while iPad shipments amount to 5 million units per month. The combined total shipments of processors used in the two devices will account for over 80 percent of TSMC's 28 nanometer capacity by the end of 2012, he said.