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AMD Becomes TSMC's Third Largest Customer

AMD
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD's focus to produce all of its most advanced products at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and increasing orders have made the company the foundry's third largest customer, according to estimates from Bloomberg and DigiTimes. Apple is still TSMC's No.1 customer and will remain so for the foreseeable future. But AMD's position ahead of Broadcom, Nvidia, and Qualcomm enables the company to negotiate better business terms, work closer with the contract maker of chips, and have an influence on development of next-generation nodes.

Top TSMC Customers as of December, 2021

2021
Apple25.93%
MediaTek5.80%
AMD4.36%
Qualcomm3.90%
Broadcom3.77%
Nvidia2.83%
Sony2.54%
Marvell1.39%
STMicroelectronics1.38
Analog Devices1.06
Intel0.84

These numbers are based on estimations from Bloomberg and DigiTimes, compiled by DigiTimes.

Far Behind Apple, But Poised to Grow

After relying on GlobalFoundries and TSMC for years, AMD began to shift production of its most advanced chips to TSMC in 2018 after GlobalFoundries pulled the plug on its leading-edge process technologies. Nowadays TSMC makes all of AMD's advanced CPUs, GPUs, and SoCs using N7 and N6 process technologies, which is why the chip developer's contribution to the foundry's revenue is growing along with its rising sales. By contrast, a number of TSMC's customers like Nvidia and Qualcomm have shifted many of their orders to Samsung Foundry, which is why their contribution is getting lower. 

As of December 2021, Apple — TSMC's largest customer — contributed 25.93% of the foundry's revenue mostly because the company uses TSMC's latest, most advanced, and most expensive N5 and N5P nodes for hundreds of millions of its chips. MediaTek was the distant second with 5.80%, whereas AMD was TSMC's No. 3 customer that was behind 4.39% of the foundry's earnings.  

AMD's share in TSMC's balance sheet is poised to grow as the company increases adoption of the foundry's advanced packaging technologies as well as embraces more expensive N5 for its upcoming Zen 4-based processors. Furthermore, once AMD absorbs Xilinx, it will be a considerably larger semiconductor company in general and therefore will use more of TSMC's services (and will pay more money).

Sixth Largest Customer

Nvidia, which was traditionally one of TSMC's main customers that even co-designed a custom node for its GPUs several years ago, now accounts for 2.83% of the foundry's revenue. It is noteworthy that shifting of client Ampere GPU orders to Samsung Foundry put Nvidia significantly behind Broadcom and Qualcomm as far as TSMC's revenue share is concerned.  

Nvidia, of course, produces larger and more expensive chips than the two telecommunication giants. But most of Nvidia's GPUs made by the world's largest contract maker of chips are produced using trailing 12FFN process technology. TSMC is also responsible for Nvidia's flagship A100 compute GPU for datacenters and high-performance computers, but the number of such chips produced at TSMC's N7 node is relatively limited. This is going to change when/if Nvidia shifts production of its Ada Lovelace and Hopper-based GPUs to TSMC, but for now the graphics company is the foundry's sixth largest customer.

Mysterious Intel

One of the mysterious things about TSMC's future is Intel's contribution to the foundry's revenue once it begins to ship high-volume CPUs to the blue company. At present, TSMC makes a variety of components for Intel, many of them use lagging nodes, whereas compute tiles for Intel's upcoming Ponte Vecchio GPU are not exactly high-volume products. 

Bloomberg and DigiTimes estimated that Intel's input to TSMC's revenue as of December, 2021, was around 0.84% (though they do not divulge the exact period they considered as normally Intel's contribution to TSMC's earnings is significantly higher). Meanwhile, once Intel begins to use TSMC's leading-edge N3 technology (which is a rumor for now) in 2022 ~ 2023, its contribution may skyrocket all the way into the Top 3 of TSMC's clients.

Anton Shilov
Anton Shilov

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • dalek1234
    I'm looking at a chart from earlier this year, and it's showing AMD as being 3rd already. Mind you, just like the chart in here, it's an just estimate, and both are estimated by different people.

    Still, if this chart has some accuracy to it, I can see AMD overtaking MediaTek in about a year, given AMD's current growth.
    Reply