The report confirms Intel as a major customer and calls into question whether Qualcomm has moved orders back from Samsung to TSMC. A further question is how long a Chinese customer can remain on the customer list, given US government antipathy.
The seven companies listed in the report are Advanced Micro Devices, Apple, Bitmain, Intel, MediaTek, Nvidia and Qualcomm. The report called it as eight customers classing Intel and Altera as separate companies. Altera is the programmable logic brand of Intel.
Apple reportedly ordered 40,000 to 45,000 wafers of 5nm process capacity in 1Q20 for the production of A14, A14X Bionic chips and ARM-based MacBook processors. Qualcomm and MediaTek are ordering 5nm chips for 5G smartphones.
However, while Bitmain was a major customer of TSMC's during the cryptocurrency craze of 2018 (see Cryptocurrency mining IC startup now a TSMC top-ten customer ), US-China political tension is now at such a fever pitch that providing 5nm product to any Chinese company is likely to attract attention from the US government.
Bitmain, a major vendor of bitcoin mining ASICs and equipment, is headquartered in Beijing, China. It was founded in 2013 by Jihan Wu, an equity fund manager, and Micree Zhan, an engineering manager. The company attempted an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2018 but failed to get it away before a bitcoin price collapse affected the value of the company.
Some controversy has surrounded the company after the co-founders fell out in 2019 over whether and how to take Bitmain into artificial intelligence processors. According to reports has Jihan, who had himself been ousted from the company, succeeded in ousting Zhan from the company in October 2019.
The news also sheds some doubt on how much of Qualcom's 5nm business Samsung has been able to attract.
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