TSMC applies smart manufacturing to produce sustainable products with higher energy efficiency

TSMC Assists Customers Manufacturing Lower Energy Consumption Products and Enabling Global Energy Saving Sustainable Solutions

Minglien Lo

With the continuously vigorous development of the global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, integrated circuits (ICs) play a key role in many ICT products including computers and communication equipment.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) is not only the world's largest dedicated semiconductor foundry, but also an important component of the ICT industry. According to a report from the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK), Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), the ICT industry’s expenditure on R&D in Taiwan was NT$297.04 billion in 2015, and TSMC accounted for 21.8% of this spending. To better understand more efficient methods of energy consumption and the enablement of potential energy saving to other industries by using advanced ICT products, TSMC collaborated with the IEK and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to conduct research on the contribution of ICT products in Taiwan to overall energy conservation. From the result, it can be inferred that expedited ICT R&D can drive high technology development, thereby improving the overall energy efficiency. Moreover, ICT products in various smart applications have demonstrated significant energy saving effects.

Correlation between ICT R&D Expenditure and Energy Consumption

As an important component of the ICT industry, in 2017 TSMC deployed 258 process technologies, and manufactured 9,920 products for 465 customers that encompassed a variety of computer, communications and consumer electronics market segments. In 2017, TSMC invited the ITRI IEK to conduct research on ICT products enabling Taiwan’s potential energy saving effects. The results showed a strong correlation between ICT industry R&D and energy consumption in Taiwan; when there is an increase in the former, there is a decrease in the latter. When ICT industry R&D is increased by 1.0%, energy consumption decreases by approximately 0.27~0.31%.

ITRI IEK performed a simulation of the possible effects of energy conservation in accordance with different scenarios of the growth of knowledge stock. The results were as follows:
  • Under Scenario 2 (where the ICT industry conducts its R&D normally), 259.8 billion kWh of energy will be consumed in Taiwan in 2022. Compared with Scenario 1, 20 billion kWh will be saved, which is equivalent to 10.57 million tons of CO2 reduced.
  • Under Scenario 3 (where the ICT industry expedites its R&D), energy consumption in Taiwan in 2022 will be the same as that in 2012. Compared with that under Scenario 2, 16.2 billion kWh will be saved, which is equivalent to 8.56 million tons of CO2 reduced.
Scenario 1: If the ICT industry had stopped its R&D, its knowledge stock would have ended in 2015.
Scenario 2: If the ICT industry's knowledge stock grows at a rate of 5.3%, an average rate maintained over the past 5 years.
Scenario 3: If the ICT industry's knowledge stock grows at a rate of 9.4%, the fastest rate maintained over the years.

Collaboration with MIT to Understand the Energy Effects of ICT Applications

In addition to collaborating with ITRI IEK, TSMC also widened the collaboration by including international academic research institutes. In 2017, TSMC invited a research team from the MIT on behalf of the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) via the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA) with situations in Taiwan as its example focusing on smart applications of ICT products in various fields, including smart grid, smart building, smart transportation, and smart manufacturing in order to develop a calculation method of energy saving performance simulation. The results show that individual smart applications have a 2%-7% energy-saving impact.

From the research results of ITRI IEK and MIT, it can be inferred that expedited semiconductor technology and ICT industry improvement and application can help to reduce overall energy consumption. In the future, TSMC will continue to cooperate with MIT to conduct additional research on ICT and semiconductor products' contribution to energy conservation in other industries and livelihood applications to drive technology breakthroughs, improve energy efficiency and advance sustainable development.