Column: How money and markets are shaking up the semiconductor industry, to little effect
For every dollar they earned in the first half of 2013, Intel Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Co. spent $1.40 in capital investments.
That’s a lopsided number, and a sign of how competitive the semiconductor industry has become.
At one time, TSMC dominated the independent foundry business, churning out everything from graphics cards to smartphone chipsets.
In recent years it has become a three-horse race, with Samsung Electronics and GlobalFoundries carving out large portions of the market, and Intel threatening to open things up even further with a move into mobile processors.
Both TSMC and Intel hope that, by throwing enough money at the problem, they can distance themselves from the competition.
For Intel, this might be true.
“Chipzilla” has a fat wallet, and a position in the PC industry that guarantees a decent return on its investment. TSMC has neither advantage, and may struggle to get ahead in the rapidly evolving mobile industry.
For both companies, costs are rising.