TSMC would not exist without K. T. Li; Nvidia would not be possible without TSMC

Monica Chen, Taipei; Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia 0


At the venue where Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) founder Morris Chang received the honor of the inaugural Li Kuo-Ting Award in Taipei on November 9, Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang also showed up along with other tech leaders such as Quanta chairman Barry Lam, Acer founder Stan Shih, and Foxconn founder Terry Gou, to congratulate Morris Chang and express his recognition for Chang's contribution to the technological development in Taiwan.

During his speech at the ceremony, Huang reiterated his appreciation of Morris Chang and said that "Nvidia would not be possible without TSMC." He added that Chang created one of the world's greatest companies, and from his experience working at various big companies and leading Nvidia to collaborate with so many firms in this world, there is no other company as extraordinary and incredible as TSMC, as it "jumps through hoops to support every customer's constantly changing needs at the same time."

Huang said Nvidia is built upon TSMC, and its GPU-accelerated computing is reshaping the technology industry, achieving a much larger artificial intelligence (AI) revolution than PCs, networks, and mobile phones. Without TSMC, Nvidia would not have been able to realize this.

"On my first meeting with Morris, I was in my 30s. He was speaking to me about corporate governance, the importance of integrity." Huang recalled his memory, "That was infused into TSMC. And it turns out, trust, is the ultimate, the most fundamental and essential boundary in technology."

"Elephants can dance (referring to former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner's book)," Huang said, "Morris raised one (TSMC) that can jump through hoops."

Huang cited Dr. Hu Chengming, the inventor of FinFET, as saying, "The future of transistors is our future," and further believes that "TSMC is everyone's future." Huang said TSMC manufactures chips for various industries worldwide and has never seen any company with such significant influence. "TSMC has created three true miracles: firstly, customizing chips for thousands of customers, each is unique; secondly, being able to mass-produce while also offering small-scale customization in semiconductor foundries; and finally, advancing chip technology at an astonishing speed, even at physical limits."

Nvidia has reportedly found a way to ship high-performance GPUs into China with their upcoming H20, L20, and L2 GPUs, according to Sources said Nvidia, which bears the brunt of the updated US export restrictions on AI chips to China, already has product samples for these GPUs that can circumvent the restrictions and they will go into mass production within the next month.

Foundation of TSMC's success

K. T. Li, or Li Kuo-Ting, was a physicist trained at the prestigious Cavendish Laboratory under the supervision of Ernest Rutherford, renowned as "the father of nuclear physics." As a visionary statesman, Li laid the foundation of policy incentives for fostering industrial development while serving as Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs and Minister of Finance during the 1960s-70s.

Morris Chang said K. T. Li started connecting with him in 1976 and finally succeeded in recruiting him to Taiwan to become the president of ITRI, and later helped raise funds to establish TSMC in 1987. "Without K. T. Li, TSMC would not have existed," said Chang, who expressed his deep gratitude for Li during his acceptance speech.

Li's significant contributions to Taiwan, covering aspects such as economics and technology, earned him the title "Architect of Taiwan's Economic Miracle." He formulated strategies for Taiwan's economic development and played a crucial role in two pivotal industrial transformations from agriculture to industry and from industry to technology. During the global boom in the technology industry, he served as the Executive Yuan's Minister without Portfolio responsible for technology policy for 12 years. During this time, he advocated for the establishment of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), the Hsinchu Science Park, and the Institute for Information Industry (III), laying the foundation for Taiwan's technology industry.

The Li Kuo-Ting Award is an honorary award for people who have extraordinary contributions to the development of science and technology, presented by K. T. Li Foundation for Development of Science and Technology, a non-profit organization established and funded by semiconductor and electronic industry leaders in Taiwan.

Chang led TSMC from its establishment to its current prominence, transforming TSMC into a corporate giant with a market value of $500 billion and the world's leader in advanced semiconductor fabrication. Chang's outstanding contributions were recognized with the inaugural Li Kuo-Ting Award, highlighting the profound significance and contemporary relevance of the award.

Following the event, TSMC Chairman Mark Liu responded to media inquiries about the planning of its advanced process facilities, reiterating, "(TSMC's) 1.4-nanometer technology will stay in Taiwan."