So tight is TSMC's supply at the 16 and 12nm nodes that it is losing some cryptocurrency business to Samsung the report said. The potential of cryptocurrency mining chip orders to serve as a demand driver was noted by TSMC in its 4Q17 financial results conference (see TSMC talks cryptocurrency as sales driver).
Now TSMC's 16nm and 12nm process production capacity has been tight in the first quarter of 2018 due to the demand for cryptocurrency mining IC, Digitimes said referencing unnamed sources. That said TSMC's sales figures have been somewhat lacklustre in the first couple of months of 2018, compared with the same period in 2018 (see TSMC sales plunged in February).
TSMC has obtained the majority of orders for custom ASICs for cryptocurrency mining but tight supply has now forced some customers to shift orders to Samsung Electronics, in particular Baikal Miner, Digitimes said.
TSMC has not passed comment on the unsustainability of the leading cryptocurrency, Bitcoin due to its increasing use of energy. It has been estimated that the mining of each bitcoin consumes the same amount of energy as it does to power nine US homes for one day and by its nature the amount of computing power to mine a bitcoin increases with each successive transaction. In the last year the energy consumed mining Bitcoins has gone from 10TWh/year to more than 50TWh/year, according to Digiconomist.
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