Caixin
Nov 09, 2021 08:33 PM
TECH

Chipmaker TSMC Assures Customer Confidentiality in Data Submission to Washington

TSMC, which has started mass production of cutting-edge chips using 5-nanometer technology, posted a year-on-year jump of 13.8% in net profit in the three months through September. Photo: VCG
TSMC, which has started mass production of cutting-edge chips using 5-nanometer technology, posted a year-on-year jump of 13.8% in net profit in the three months through September. Photo: VCG

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker by market share, said that it has not disclosed “customer-specific information” to the U.S. government as it complied with Washington’s Nov. 8 deadline to submit supply chain information to help address the ongoing global chip shortage.

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a request for information on Sept. 24 that asked U.S. and foreign firms in the semiconductor supply chain — including producers, consumers and intermediaries — to voluntarily fill out a questionnaire providing “information about inventories, demand and delivery dynamics.”

It said that the purpose was to identify possible hoarding and quantify bottlenecks that have crippled car manufacturing and caused shortages of consumer electronics in the U.S.

TSMC on Friday submitted three documents in its response to the U.S. data request, including two restricted documents containing the chipmaker’s confidential business information and a questionnaire which can be accessed by the public, according to Regulations.gov, a U.S. government-run document repository.

In the questionnaire, the Hsinchu-based company provided limited answers to non-sensitive questions involving shares of its different chip types in total production and revenue figures in 2019 and 2020, while omitting information including customer names, inventories and primary bottlenecks that affected its ability to provide products to customers in 2020.

It is unclear what information TSMC provided in the restricted documents. A company representative told Caixin on Monday that the company remained committed to protecting its “customers’ confidentiality as always, ensuring no customer-specific information is disclosed in the response.” It did not give any further details.

As of Monday, a total of 23 companies had handed over their supply chain information, according to Regulations.gov. The firms include TSMC, Micron Technology Inc., Western Digital Corp., United Microelectronics Corp. and Globalwafers Co. Ltd.

While the request for information is technically voluntary, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a September interview with Bloomberg that the Biden administration would likely consider all possible options including the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to enforce compliance with the request.

The U.S. demand for semiconductor supply chain data comes as American lawmakers call for the complete rebuilding of the chip supply chain in the U.S. to reduce dependence on East Asia.

TSMC, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Taiwan’s United Microelectronics were the world’s top three contract chipmakers in the second quarter of 2021 with respective market shares of 52.9%, 17.3% and 7.2%, according to statistics provided by research firm TrendForce in August. The Chinese mainland’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., which is on a U.S. trade blacklist, took the fifth spot with 5.3%.

TSMC, which has started mass production of cutting-edge chips using 5-nanometer technology, posted a year-on-year jump of 13.8% in net profit in the three months through September to NT$156.3 billion ($5.6 billion) on revenue of NT$414.7 billion, up 16.3% year-on-year, according to its earnings report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Bertrand Teo (bertrandteo@caixin.com)

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