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Intel’s move to step up chip manufacturing ‘ironic’: TSMC founder

Morris Chang recalls that Intel once refused to invest in TSMC, disregarded importance of chipmaking

TSMC founder and former CEO Morris Chang speaks at forum in Taipei April 21.

TSMC founder and former CEO Morris Chang speaks at forum in Taipei April 21. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Morris Chang (張忠謀), founder and former CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), has described the decision by American semiconductor giant Intel to invest big in chip manufacturing as “ironic.”

The chip tycoon made the remark at a forum in Taipei on Wednesday (April 21). He was referring to Intel’s March announcement that it would spend US$20 billion to build chip plants in Arizona amid a global shortage of advanced chips, with the aim of challenging Asia’s dominance in chipmaking.

According to Chang, TSMC sought to secure Intel's investment decades ago, when the American company dominated the global semiconductor market. The proposal was rejected because the multinational “thought little of” the profitability prospects of chip manufacturing, CNA quoted Chang as saying.

The 89-year-old Chang shared the three factors he believes have contributed to Taiwan’s success in the semiconductor industry. These are dedicated engineers and technicians, managerial positions held by locals, and a convenient transportation network that allows for efficient reassignment of thousands of engineers to different manufacturing centers around the country, reported Anue.

As for TSMC's rivals, Chang said the world’s largest semiconductor foundry regards South Korean companies as its strongest competitors due to their similar corporate culture, talent pool, and other manufacturing advantages. China, which has lagged behind in semiconductor technologies for at least five years, is no rival to Taiwan.

While the U.S. government subsidizes American semiconductor firms, the short-term aid can hardly sustain a high-cost business that requires continued investment, according to Chang.

Updated : 2021-05-14 12:15 GMT+08:00