This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Two Chinese government-backed start-up foundries - the companies that actually make the semiconductors - have reportedly offered to more than double the salaries of more than 100 engineers and managers from Taiwan's TSMC, which is responsible for producing the A-series chips in the iPhones.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review report, the two startups are Quanxin Integrated Circuit Manufacturing (QXIC) and Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Neither has much name recognition outside the industry, but each employs more than 50 former TSMC employees, again led by former TSMC executives, according to the report. Both companies aim to develop 14nm and 12nm chip process technology, which is reportedly two to three generations behind TSMC, but at the forefront in China.
Incidentally, the manufacturing process refers to the circuit line width, and generally speaking, smaller numbers such as 7nm and 5nm (finer) mean higher integration and consequently higher efficiency in power versus performance. The process for the chip tentatively named A14 for the iPhone 12 series, which TSMC is expected to produce this year, is expected to be 5nm, with official notice that 3nm risk production (self-reliant test production in the absence of a specific customer) will also begin in 2021.
According to Nikkei, the Chinese government is behind this enthusiastic recruitment drive. The aim is to help foster the domestic chip industry in order to reduce China's dependence on foreign suppliers. Many of the emerging semiconductor projects such as QXIC and Hongxin are supported by local governments, reportedly to spur competition and attract top talent in order to show the Chinese government that they are contributing to national goals.
That's why the remuneration offered for the deal is also quite substantial, with sources reporting that Hongxin has offered 2 to 2.5 times TSMC's total annual salary and bonus.
TSMC is also concerned about the exodus of talent, but it does not immediately affect its position at the top of the industry, according to the report. Nevertheless, it is concerned about the transfer of its trade secrets to Chinese startups and has asked the chip-making equipment maker to sign a pledge not to sell tools customized for TSMC to Chinese companies.
Nikkei has positioned both QXIC and Hongxin, which were founded in 2017 and 2019, as part of a boom in China's semiconductor industry's quest to become self-sufficient as U.S.-China relations have become strained. With TSMC halting new orders from Huawei in June of this year, precisely because of the tightening of regulations by the Trump administration in the U.S., the pull-out of talent by Chinese companies is likely to become even more intense in the future.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.