TSMC is expected to invest $8-10 billion in new 450mm factories, although tech challenges remain unsolved and will be possibly saty that way for the years to come. Moving on 18-inch fabs requires significant investments on new tools and equipment for the factories, meaning that equipment and material suppliers should help the foundry solve the current technical barriers.
"18-inch is something we have to do, but the technology is not ready yet ... if we can overcome it, it'll be a big breakthrough," said TSMC Chairman Morris Chang after the company's annual general meeting.
Samsung and Intel are also working on developing a 450mm wafer. Intel has said it plans to invest up to $8 billion to expand high-tech manufacturing facilities in Arizona and build a new site in Oregon, which would be able to produce 450mm wafers.
Seperately, TSMC expects to see gains over the next years from Renesas Electronics' decision to make chips on a contract manufacturing basis.