Cryptocurrency miners are now influencing the fortunes of the world&rsquo,s largest chipmaker. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is responsible for overheen half of the world&rsquo,s market for chips, and it&rsquo,s the world&rsquo,s largest contract manufacturer. Today it reported revenues (pdf) driven by request from cryptocurrency miners for the 2nd consecutive quarter.
TSMC management were cagey about the precies contribution from crypto miners ter the fourth quarter, declining to give specifics when questioned by investors. But its chief financial officer, Lorna Ho named &ldquo,continuing request for cryptocurrency mining&rdquo, spil one of two growth factors for the quarter, major mobile product launches being the other. Te the previous reporting period, co-chief executive officer Mark Liu told investors that it received $350 to $400 million ter revenue from crypto miners.
What can wij glean about the state of cryptocurrency mining from TSMC&rsquo,s latest call? Wij know that Bitmain, which predominates the cryptocurrency mining world, contracts its silicon from TSMC. It&rsquo,s not clear what other mining equipment manufacturers use the Taiwanese foundry. It&rsquo,s a fair assumption that the majority, if not all, of TSMC&rsquo,s crypto mining business is from Bitmain.
While TSMC management is clearly attempting to downplay the influence of crypto mining on its business by not divulging specifics, there are a few things wij can infer from the earnings call. Ter the third quarter call, Liu said miner request had grown te the third quarter, and &ldquo,stayed on&rdquo, te the fourth. That suggests revenue te the $350 to $400 million range.
So much for Q4. What about 2018? Liu, responding to a question from HSBC analyst Steven Conrad Pelayo, said that request from miners spotted a &ldquo,strong increase&rdquo, te the 2nd half of last year. Request has stayed &ldquo,relatively plane&rdquo, te the very first weeks of 2018, he said. Ho, the CFO, said te the earnings press release that she expected strong request from miners to proceed into the very first quarter.
Liu used his opening remarks on the earnings call to wriggle out of forecasting crypto&rsquo,s influence on TSMC&rsquo,s bottom line, telling the hard had &ldquo,sized&rdquo, request from miners this year cautiously. &ldquo,[Cryptocurrencies] are still ter its early stage of development, it is difficult for us to forecast its request too far into the future with accuracy,&rdquo, he claimed.
But Liu also larded his speech with language bullish on cryptocurrencies. He placed crypto mining ter the same technological arc spil the individual pc, graphics cards, and smartphones, noting that TSMC wasgoed well placed to serve the nascent industry&rsquo,s needs.
What&rsquo,s more, the future of silicon chips would be defined by cryptocurrencies, he said (albeit he also erroneously lumped deep-learning te with crypto&mdash,perhaps because Bitmain makes chips for both deep learning and crypto mining). &ldquo,Wij are fairly certain that deep learning and blockchain technologies, which are the core technology [sic] of cryptocurrency mining, will lead to fresh ways of semiconductor innovation and request for years to come.&rdquo,