In addition to orders for 7nm chips, robust orders for cryptocurrency mining ASICs from China-based Bitmain Technologies are expected to drive Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) revenue growth in 2018, according to industry observers.
TSMC chairman Morris Chang previously said that the company is expected to see 10-15% on-year growth in 2018 revenues driven by three major applications: high-performance computing (HPC), car-use electronics and Internet of Things (IoT). Bitmain's orders are expected to become a new revenue booster for the foundry in 2018.
Bitmain, which has already been supplying mining ASICs for Bitcoin in the past several years and is one of the top-5 clients of TSMC, is ready to release ASIC products for mining the cryptocurrency Ether in April at the earliest. The products are expected to shore up the performances of related upstream suppliers including TSMC, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and Global Unichip (GUC).
ASICs' growing presence in the cryptocurrency sector is a challenge to the mining practice using graphics cards supplied by Nvidia, AMD and related brand vendors, which have been catering mostly to Ether and Litecoin mining.
Currently, Bitmain is the largest cryptocurrency mining ASIC supplier worldwide with an over 70% share in the market. The company generates around US$2.5 billion in revenues a year and is mainly focusing on supplying products for Bitcoin and Antpool.
The second and third largest suppliers Canaan and Ebang are also based in China.
Industry observers revealed that Bitmain's mining ASICs for Bitcoin continue to enjoy strong demand in 2018 and TSMC remains the sole supplier of Bitmain's ASIC chips.
In addition to the ASIC orders, TSMC's 7nm manufacturing process, which is scheduled to begin providing mass production services in June, is expected to obtain application processor (AP) orders from Apple and will have at least 50 tape-outs by the end of 2018, which will contribute around 10% of the company's 2018 revenues and boost annual EPS to NT14.50-14.70 (US$0.49-0.50), the sources said.