TSMC's supply of 14-nm chips to China’s Huawei threatened by US

Huawei could switch to SMIC or to more sophisticated TSMC chips

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TSMC says it does not comment on speculation and hypothetical situations.

TSMC says it does not comment on speculation and hypothetical situations. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — New measures by the United States could threaten Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) supply of 14-nanometer chips to China’s Huawei, reports said Wednesday (Dec. 25).

Huawei has been accused by several countries of maintaining close ties to China’s military establishment and of functioning as an arm of the country's communist government, leading to its 5G and other electronic systems becoming the focus of suspicions.

The Trump administration is preparing a maximum limit wherein U.S. technology cannot account for more than 10 percent of products supplied to Huawei, Liberty Times reported Wednesday. If the limit is imposed, TSMC products might be affected, the newspaper added.

Asked for comment on the likelihood of such a restriction, TSMC said that at present, the U.S. has not changed its rules. The company would not answer questions about purely hypothetical situations, according to Liberty Times.

Of the chips manufactured by TSMC, the 7-nm variety contain only 9 percent U.S. technology or parts, so they would not pose a problem. However, when it comes to the 14-nm semiconductors, their American contents rise to 15 percent.

In the event the U.S. does go ahead with its plans, Huawei could either choose to buy 14-nm chips from China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) or switch to 7-nm or even 5-nm products from TSMC, reports said.