Sony buying HDTV chips from TSMC

By Doug Young, Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Consumer electronics giant Sony Corp. has started buying TV chips from Taiwan’s TSMC and also aims to buy cellphone chips from the world’s largest contract chip maker, industry sources said.

The move is part of a broader global trend among chip makers to focus on more profitable design work and leave capital intensive production to other firms such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

TSMC recently began making driver IC chips for Sony for use in high-definition TVs (HDTVs), according to the industry source with knowledge of the situation.

Sony is also working with smaller system-on-a-chip design house Global Unichip to develop a chipset for DVB-H, a standard for watching TV on mobile phones, the source said.

If that chipset is accepted by cellphone makers such as Sony’s joint venture with Sweden’s Ericsson, Sony could start placing large volume orders for the chips with TSMC, the source said.

A TSMC spokesman declined to comment, saying the company does not discuss details involving customers. Sony also had no comment.

TSMC counts some of the world’s largest designers among its clients, including cellphone chip giants Qualcomm and Texas Instruments and specialty chip maker Nvidia. Its competitors include crosstown rival United Microelectronics Corp., the world’s second largest contract chip maker, as well as China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) and Singapore’s Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing.