This represents a general acceleration of UMC's plans to bring the manufacturing process to market. In April 2016 UMC was talking about commercial production in the second half of 2017. In October 2016 UMC reportedly discussed moving the process to volume production in 2Q17 with Bitcoin mining company BitFury set to be the first customer.
In conference call to discuss 4Q16 financial results Po Wen Yen, CEO of UMC, said: "With regard to our advanced 14-nanometer technology, we have recently made substantial progress for this advanced node. Following intensive engineering activities with our customer, UMC’s 14-nanometer transistor performance has delivered speed and leakage results which are comparable with the industry’s 14-nanometer standards. Our yields have fulfilled customer requirements, and we anticipate 14-nanometer wafer shipments to commence in first quarter 2017, highlighting our determined efforts to reach this important milestone."
In the call Yen said that initial 14nm manufacturing capacity would be 2,000 wafers per month and that UMC has numerous customers running test chips.
In the fourth quarter UMC made a net profit of NT$2.55 billion (about $81.34 million) on revenue of NT$38.31 billion (about $1.22 billion), flat from NT$38.16 billion in 3Q16 and an increase of 13.2 percent year-on-year from NT$33.85 billion in 4Q15.
In the quarter UMC opened its 300mm wafer fab in Xiamen, China – Fab12X – and started shipping 40nm wafers. The company plans a 2017 capital expenditure of $2 billion, about 20 percent of the 2017 capex of leading foundry TSMC.
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