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Meeting Demand for Chip Design Talent Development, TSRI Introduces Virtual Process Chip Design Training Kit and 7-nm Chip Fabrication Services from TSMC

As a global center for semiconductor chip manufacturing, Taiwan has a comprehensive industry chain and an abundant talent pool. Integrating Taiwan's competitive chip design industry so the nation can act as a global leader in important future applications such as AIoT, autonomous driving, electric vehicles, and B5G/6G, is the key to further upgrading Taiwan's semiconductor industry chain. NARLabs' Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute (TSRI) provides Taiwan's academic and research communities with chip design environments and tape-out resources that follow international trends, supports foundational scientific research, and cultivates high-tech manpower. TSRI also collaborates with the industrial and academic sectors and conducts international talent training to help Taiwan become an important global training base for chip design in the future.

To continue strengthening Taiwan's position in the semiconductor industry, TSRI is working with leading chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC) to introduce TSMC's 16-nm virtual process chip design training kit into academia, bridging existing 16-nm FinFET chip fabrication services. TSRI is also introducing TSMC's 7-nm FinFET manufacturing services, which will provide an advanced process design environment for local master's and doctoral students to conduct academic research. This will allow TSRI to assist in downlinking completed chip layouts to TSMC to verify the feasibility of forward-looking AI and B5G/6G designs and thereby meet industry demand.

TSMC's N16 ADFP (Academic Design Foster Package) is the world's first training package for virtual process chip design that is compatible with FinFET technology. TSRI has taken the lead in establishing an N16 ADFP training environment in cooperation with TSMC to promote chip design education in Taiwan's academic community and move from the existing 0.18-micron planar transistor generation to the industry mainstream 16-nm fin transistor generation, narrowing the gap between academics and real-world application.

TSRI Director-General Tuo-Hung (Alex) Hou stated that TSRI is a cradle for the cultivation of domestic chip design talent, assisting in more than 1,800 research and training chip tape-outs each year. The introduction of TSMC's N16 ADFP for hands-on training and 7-nm FinFET chip fabrication services can enhance the quality of talent in advanced chip design. In 2022, TSRI assisted 11 universities, National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, National Cheng Kung University, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, National Taipei University of Technology, National Sun Yat-sen University, National Central University, National Chung Cheng University, National Chung Hsing University, and Yuan Ze University, to obtain TSMC N16 ADFP authorization for use in teaching. TSRI hopes that through its long-established industry-academia cooperation and training experience, it can assist more schools in introducing forward-looking virtual process chip design training kits so that the cultivation of master's and doctoral-level chip design talent in Taiwan can more closely relate to industry needs.

TSMC Senior Vice President Cliff Hou stated that TSMC continues to invest in industry-academia cooperation and deepen talent cultivation in the semiconductor field in Taiwan. In taking the initiative to provide the N16 ADFP and 7-nm FinFET chip fabrication services in academia, TSMC hopes that through cooperation and promotion with TSRI, it can help Taiwan resolve the bottleneck in forward-looking chip design teaching and research, enter into the FinFET generation, and integrate mainstream technology in order to train more high-level semiconductor experts and increase Taiwan's semiconductor R&D capabilities.