Despite fears of a COVID-19 related downturn, TSMC appears to have done remarkably well this year. The Taiwan-based foundry reported a revenue of US$4.1 billion for June 2020, increasing 28.8% sequentially and 40.8% YoY. TSMC’s revenue for H1 2020 was 35.2% higher compared to H1 2019 while its Q2 revenue was approxiomately NT$310.7 billion, an increase of 25.2% YoY.
The reason behind the high level of growth, despite the global downturn, is fascinating. Amid heightened US export control regulations, Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, long in the middle of the US-China trade tussle, was banned from placing new orders with TSMC. The Taiwanese Foundry is now evidently filling a “kill order” for Huawei, churning out large volumes of silicon that Huawei’s HiSilicon fab can stock up on later, as it searches for an alternative vendor. Huawei is likely to turn to Chinese fab SMIC.
However, the latter only supports 14nm designs at present while mainstream fabs are already down to 7nm and below. It would be very interesting to see how this pans out: will we see HiSilicon’s Kirin cores backported to 10nm or 14nm? Or will Huawei find an alternative path?