The top two foundries on the planet belong to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung. Both are in a race to keep Moore’s Law alive; this is the observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 that the number of transistors inside an integrated circuit doubles every year. In 1975, he revised his observation and said that the number of transistors doubles every other year. This is important because the more transistors that fit inside a chip, the more powerful and energy-efficient it is.
Both TSMC and Samsung are spending huge sums of money on EUV
An EUV machine like the ones being used by Samsung
Keep in mind that this battle between TSMC and Samsung is over the production of chips for big-name clients that design their own components but don’t have the production facilities or know-how to manufacture them. For example, TSMC counts Apple, HiSilicon (Huawei), and Qualcomm among its big-name customers. This is the type of business that Samsung hopes to grow through the use of EUV and smaller process nodes. For example, Samsung’s vice president of foundry business Yoon Jong Shik said, “companies like Amazon, Google, and Alibaba, which lack experience in silicon design, are seeking to make chips with their own concept ideas in order to boost their services. I think this would bring a significant breakthrough for our non-memory chip business.” But Samsung is also aiming to churn out chips that TSMC might not have the capacity to make such as Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips and AI chips for smartphone manufacturers and other companies.
Samsung currently owns 17.8% of the foundry business which is good enough for second place behind TSMC’s massive 52.7% slice of the chip-making pie.