On January 14, 2014 we read on the Investors.com headlines page – Intel Seen Gaining Huge Pricing Advantage Over TSMC. Just three days later comes the responding headline:
These kinds of headlines are not seen too often in the semiconductor business domain and it is not clear what the objectives are for such. It will be hard to believe that this is an attempt to manipulate the investor community, yet there are only a handful of super high volume design wins that are driving the leading edge devices, and for those wins the fight should be taking place in the ‘board’ room. So, let’s dive a bit into the details behind these headlines.
The first headline relates to Jefferies analyst Mark Lipaci releasing an analysis report stating: “Intel will have a die size and transistor cost advantage over Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) for the first time by fourth-quarter 2014, which could lead to a 50% pricing advantage in processors in 12 months, and a 66% pricing advantage in 36 months.” We can find more information in the blog titled: Intel: Primed for Major Phone, Tablet Share on Cheaper Transistors, Says Jefferies.Quoting Lipaci: “At the same time that Intel has started focusing on computing devices in mobile form factors, it appears that TSMC is hitting a wall on the transistor cost curve. The chart below was presented by TSMC’s CTO. We believe that due to Intel’s larger R&D budget, its recent focus on the mobile/tablet market, and its higher R&D spend relative to TSMC, that it will produce a lower cost transistor than TSMC for the first time ever in 4Q14. We believe Intel extends that cost lead 24 months after than in 2016.”
Lipaci then used the following chart to illustrate the build up of Intel advantage vs. TSMC.