TSMC and Samsung provide chip supply chain data to the United States: What is the intention of the United States to extort data?

The U.S. Federal Register and related websites show that TSMC has completed the questionnaire provided by the U.S. government on November 5, U.S. time, and sent back three documents in total, including one public form and two non-public files containing trade secrets.

Today (November 8), Taiwan’s United Daily News and Taiwan Economic Daily reported that TSMC has responded to the US Department of Commerce’s previous request to collect information on the chip supply chain. The U.S. Federal Register and related websites show that TSMC has completed the questionnaire provided by the U.S. government on November 5, U.S. time, and sent back three documents in total, including one public form and two non-public files containing trade secrets.

TSMC spokesperson Nina Kao announced the relevant situation in an email on the 7th. In response to this “helping the US to solve the global chip shortage problem”, TSMC said that it is still committed to “protecting the confidentiality of customers as always”, and the information in its receipt does not involve customer-specific data.

According to the official announcement of the U.S. Department of Commerce to solicit opinions on the semiconductor supply chain, the solicitation of opinions will end on November 9, local time in the United States. As of the 7th, 23 major international manufacturers and institutions have completed their responses, including TSMC, UMC, ASE, Universal Crystal and other index manufacturers have submitted “answer sheets”, and some documents are even more “confidential”. South Korea’s Samsung and SK Hynix, the US semiconductor leader Intel, and the German giant Infineon have not responded as of the 8th.

TSMC handed over the “most detailed answer sheet”

The global chip shortage problem, which has continued to this day and is still far away, still shows no sign of easing, and is like a flood of beasts impacting one after another closely related industries…

According to previous related reports, in late September this year, the U.S. Department of Commerce required more than 20 chip-related companies, including TSMC, Samsung, Intel, etc. Commercially confidential inventory, orders, sales records, and other data.

The U.S. request has aroused the concern of large fabs including TSMC and Samsung, especially regarding the above-mentioned data involving trade secrets, including corporate inventories, backlogs, delivery times, procurement and production increases, and the main factors of each product. Customer Information.

In the face of doubts from the outside world, TSMC emphasized twice on September 30 and October 6 that they would not disclose sensitive customer information, but on October 22 and the following two days, TSMC staged a series of compromises. Then to the tough reversal, it first said that it would submit data on time, but then said that it would not provide confidential data in accordance with the requirements of the United States, and would not do anything that would harm the rights and interests of customers and shareholders.

It is reported that the survey by the US Department of Commerce is a questionnaire in the format of the established question and answer form. The part that chip supply chain manufacturers need to answer includes 11 questions and 1 comment. TSMC is in the 23 companies, institutions and individuals that have responded. The most explicit, including one public data and two confidential information.

In contrast, Western Digital, Micron, UMC and other companies also submitted data materials to the US Department of Commerce, but Micron submitted a confidential document; UMC Taiwan submitted a public data and a confidential document.

It is understood that the information disclosed by TSMC did not involve customer confidentiality, but disclosed the revenue of TSMC in recent years. TSMC said it expects revenue this year to reach a record high of US$56.6 billion (about NT$1.5 trillion), a year-on-year increase of 24.4%.

Involuntary use of “other tools”

It is understood that the US Department of Commerce’s collection of relevant chip information is very different from the previous “moderate” attitude of coordinating and urging companies to increase production. It can be said to be particularly tough, giving a total of 45 days of “voluntary” buffer time, but in view of these information The United States does not rule out the use of coercive measures because it is critical to address concerns about supply chain transparency.

South Korean semiconductor companies such as Samsung and SK Hynix are also in the same swing as TSMC. As early as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s investigation began, the South Korean ambassador to the United States made it clear that South Korean companies would not easily provide highly confidential information. At the same time, the South Korean government also conveyed the concerns of South Korean companies to the United States.

However, in the face of South Korea’s refusal, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was asked at the Semiconductor Summit “what will happen if companies are unwilling to cooperate with the U.S. government in submitting data” and claimed: “If they don’t comply, our There are other tools in the toolbox that will allow them to provide data, and I hope we won’t get there, but if necessary, we will.”

The White House may invoke the National Defense Production Act or other laws to take coercive measures to make these semiconductor giants bow their heads. In the United States, then this is a form of data extortion.

However, in the face of the imminent deadline and the big stick of the United States, South Korean companies still succumbed after swinging from side to side for a month.

On November 3, South Korean company Samsung said it would submit business data to the United States on time. On November 7, South Korea’s Ministry of Finance said in a statement that in response to the US Treasury Department’s request for semiconductor companies to provide data on chip sales and inventory, South Korean technology companies are preparing to “voluntarily” submit some semiconductor data to the United States. At the same time, South Korean semiconductor companies have continued to consult with Washington on the extent to which information should be provided.

At present, Samsung and SK Hynix have not yet completed the return of the questionnaire, and it is rumored that they will reply within the last time, but they may also strive to submit a reply directly to the US Department of Commerce when South Korean officials visit the United States from the 9th to the 11th.

In addition, it has publicly and actively cooperated with the US semiconductor manufacturers Intel, Infineon, etc., and has not yet responded to the relevant questionnaires.

US ransoms data or has ulterior motives

The continuous global chip shortage has made countries around the world aware of the security of the local chip supply chain, especially for the United States, the former semiconductor hegemon, so the industry has interpreted the data of the US “blackmail” chip companies.

On the surface, the U.S. auto manufacturing industry has seen a significant reduction in production recently, and the economic recovery has fallen into a slump. According to the survey, automakers including GM and Ford have been reducing production capacity under the pressure of global chip shortages. U.S. dealerships sold fewer than 1 million new vehicles in August, down 72 percent from a year earlier. Gross domestic product grew just 2% in the third quarter of this year, the weakest pace in 11 months.

On the contrary, the global chip manufacturing industry continues to tilt towards Asia. Data show that in the foundry market, the world’s largest chip foundry company TSMC has a monopoly market share of 54%, and another Asian foundry giant Samsung has a market share of 18%. The share has dropped to 12%. Gina Raimondo even bluntly stated that in the world’s most advanced semiconductor production, the proportion of American manufacturing is zero.

On the other hand, from a technical point of view, Zhang Chao from the Taihe Think Tank Research Institute said that only from the perspective of chip manufacturing, there should be a gap of about ten years between American companies and TSMC and Samsung. Since the beginning of this year, Samsung has taken the lead in completing the trial production of the world’s first 3nm chip, while TSMC has officially announced that it has broken through 2nm chip technology and plans to mass-produce it in 2024. In contrast, American companies are still researching advanced 10nm and 7nm processes.

These undoubtedly make the United States look no longer safe.

Previously, US President Biden took out a semiconductor chip at a press conference and said, “Everyone knows the global chip market. The computer chip in my hand, many people present can’t even see it. It’s semiconductors. It’s coming in that American workers are now working significantly fewer hours, and it’s no exaggeration to say that this is the productivity of America in the 21st century!”

In order to suppress Japan, the United States took advantage of its international position to force Japan to sign the so-called “Semiconductor Agreement”, which stipulates that Japan’s minimum export price is limited. This move led to the rapid bankruptcy of the capital chain of many companies in the Japanese chip industry. The U.S. government took the opportunity to double its capital and used this “golden five years” to surpass Japan and seize most of the chip market in one fell swoop.

Now, does the United States have to rely on this kind of “hooliganism” to overtake the corner and achieve a semiconductor monopoly?


1. “U.S. Collects Fab Information: TSMC Completed, Intel Not Submitted?”, Semiconductor Industry Watch

2. “U.S. Ransomware Chip Data” Hot Search! TSMC Confirms Submitting Three Dossiers, Weiken.com Electronic Engineering

3. “TSMC Filing: Chip Supply Information Provided to the U.S. Department of Commerce, but No Customer-Specific Data Disclosed”, Heart of the Machine

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