June 13, 2014 4:22 am JST

Chip foundry UMC plans trial output of 10nm chips in 2016

KEN SAKAKIBARA, Nikkei staff writer

TOKYO -- United Microelectronics Corp., or UMC, a leading chip foundry based in Taiwan, will begin pilot production of 10-nanometer semiconductors as early as the July-September quarter of 2016.

     Chief Executive Officer Yen Po-wen revealed those plans during a visit to Japan.

     UMC plans to begin pilot production of 14nm chips at the end of this year and move into mass production of the chips in the first half of 2016. After that, the company would turn its attention to 10nm chips.

     UMC has up until now lagged behind other chipmakers in capital spending to make chips with narrower circuits. It began mass-producing 28nm chips this year.

     Taiwan Semiconductor Mfg. Co., known as TSMC, the world's largest chip foundry, plans to begin mass production of 10nm chips in 2016, so UMC's migration means that the foundries will be competing at the cutting edge of technology.

     Yen explained that unlike TSMC, which has forged solid business ties with global fabless companies like Apple and Qualcomm, UMC takes a more flexible approach by doing business with smaller companies needing chips made in smaller quantities.

     Regarding the Japanese market, Yen said UMC's mission is to convince Japanese chipmakers involved in all aspects from design to manufacture that it would be more cost-competitive to contract out the production to UMC.