The grievances of chip bosses: Master and apprentice? Traitor? Infighting

Translated from the Headlines (Toutiao 头条新闻)

Author: Great Rivers and Lakes,explain the situation(大江湖解局)


In 1966, 19-year-old Jiang Shangyi was admitted to the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering of National Taiwan University.

Here, he met his classmate Hu Zhengming. The two are both academic hegemons, competing with each other, and neither accepts each other. Although they were classmates, they did not establish a profound revolutionary friendship.

In the future, Jiang Shangyi and Hu Zhengming will also meet at TSMC and form a bridge with Liang Mengsong, the other protagonist of the story.

After graduating from National Taiwan University, Hu Zhengming went to study in the United States and obtained his master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of California, Berkeley.

Since then, Hu Zhengming stayed on to teach in universities in the United States.

Hu Zhengming

Jiang Shangyi first got a master’s degree at Princeton University, and then went to Stanford University to get a Ph.D.

After graduating with his doctorate in 1974, 27-year-old Jiang Shangyi joined Texas Instruments as an ordinary R&D engineer.

At that time, Zhang Zhongmou, born in Ningbo, Zhejiang, was 43 years old and was already the senior vice president of Texas Instruments and the de facto third-in-command of Texas Instruments.

Zhang Zhongmou is in charge of half of Texas Instruments, and the semiconductor manufacturing process he promotes has become an industry benchmark.

At this time, Jiang Shangyi and Zhang Zhongmou had no substantial intersection due to their identities. Neither of them would have thought that after many years, Jiang Shangyi would become Zhang Zhongmou’s effective cadre.

Zhang Zhongmou, who was at the pinnacle of his career in the workplace, was proud of his success. However, four years later, a transformation by Texas Instruments made him fall from the altar.

First from left: Zhang Zhongmou

In 1978, Texas Instruments, which had been engaged in the industrial semiconductor business, wanted to build an electronic consumer product business.

As a result, Zhang Zhongmou was transferred to be the general manager of the Consumer Electronics Group.

This is the rise and fall of Zhang Zhongmou by Texas Instruments. Texas Instruments believes that there is too much funding for semiconductor research, so it starts with Zhang Zhongmou’s semiconductor research.

Seeing that the situation was over, Zhang Zhongmou had no choice but to pack up his bags and leave Texas Instruments, which once made him famous.


When Zhang Zhongmou frustratedly left Texas Instruments, another inexperienced technical talent, Liang Mengsong, rose up like a new star.

Liang Mengsong came to the University of California at Berkeley for a Ph.D. under the tutelage of Hu Zhengming, an old classmate of Jiang Shangyi.

Since then, Liang Mengsong and his teacher Hu Zhengming have forged a deep relationship between teachers and students. Hu Zhengming also regarded Liang Mengsong as the proudest student.

After graduating from his Ph.D., Liang Mengsong joined AMD and became a research and development engineer.

Liang Mengsong

During this working period, Liang Mengsong published 350 technical papers on semiconductors at an astonishing speed and obtained 181 key semiconductor technology invention patents.

When Liang Mengsong was racing at AMD, Zhang Zhongmou returned to Taiwan and served as the director of the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute.

It was at this time that the United States and Japan signed the “Plaza Agreement,” and Japan’s economy plummeted.

The US Semiconductor Association took advantage of the fire and forced Japan to sign two “Semiconductor Agreements.”

Japan’s semiconductor industry, which leads the world, was completely dismembered by the United States, which has brought a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to Taiwan and South Korea.

In 1987, Zhang Zhongmou, who had been working in semiconductors for his entire life, seized this opportunity at the right time and established TSMC.

Zhang Zhongmou knows that the semiconductor industry will be further divided, and the division of design and manufacturing will be more detailed. So he invented the foundry model. We only do wafer foundry for customers and do not design chips by ourselves to avoid customer jealousy.

Relying on the contacts it has accumulated over the years, TSMC first got some low-level chip orders from Intel, and then grew together with Qualcomm, and got a large number of orders from Qualcomm.

TSMC, which came out of the line of life and death, finally stepped out of a chip foundry road and gained a firm foothold.

At this time, Zhang Zhongmou was recruiting talents all over the world.

In April 1992, Liang Mengsong quit his job at AMD, returned to Taiwan, joined TSMC, and became the director of R&D.

Liang Mengsong used his expertise to the fullest at TSMC.

In just 5 years, Liang Mengsong upgraded TSMC’s chip process technology from 0.8 microns to 0.3 microns, completing a major technological breakthrough.

But Liang Mengsong did not get a promotion. On the contrary, Zhang Zhongmou invited Jiang Shangyi to join TSMC and let him serve as TSMC’s senior vice president of research and development.

Jiang Shangyi

In this way, Jiang Shangyi became Liang Mengsong’s immediate boss.

Liang Mengsong is devoted to technology, he is talented and proud, and he doesn’t put Jiang Shangyi too much in his eyes.

Jiang Shangyi always looks kind and has an extraordinary relationship with his boss Zhang Zhongmou. He is a good player in politics.

Because Jiang Shangyi is Liang Mengsong’s boss, and he and Liang Mengsong’s mentor Hu Zhengming are classmates, most outsiders think that Jiang Shangyi and Liang Mengsong have a teacher-apprentice relationship.

Liang Mengsong does not approve of this.

Liang Mengsong continued to quietly accumulate strength for TSMC’s process leadership, and his boss Jiang Shangyi shared all the credit he made.

Suddenly, Jiang Shangyi’s influence in TSMC was quite strong.

In order to check and balance Jiang Shangyi, Zhang Zhongmou invited a technical expert, which made Liang Mengsong very excited.


This person is Hu Zhengming, Liang Mengsong’s teacher.

In 2001, Hu Zhengming joined TSMC as the chief technical officer.

Liang Mengsong immediately joined the Hu Zhengming team, and the Hu Zhengming faction and Jiang Shangyi faction were formed within TSMC.

This is Zhang Zhongmou’s management philosophy, which allows the two internal forces to compete fiercely, thereby rapidly improving the company’s technical strength.

The addition of Hu Zhengming made Liang Mengsong even more powerful.

At that time, the world’s mainstream semiconductor companies were about to make a breakthrough from 180nm to 130nm process.

Using the fin field-effect transistor invented by Hu Zhengming, TSMC skipped the 150nm process and went directly to the 130nm process.

In 2003, TSMC’s 130nm copper process was successfully mass-produced, tying the process gap between IBM’s two generations in one fell swoop and occupying a place in the global semiconductor industry.

Liang Mengsong became famous in the first battle, and he established unworldly merit in TSMC.

A year later, Hu Zhengming retired successfully and returned to school to continue to be a teacher.

At this time, Zhang Zhongmou’s health is much worse than before, and the issue of his successor is on the agenda of TSMC.

Regarding qualifications, abilities, and personal relationships, Jiang Shangyi feels that he is the best candidate.

But in Zhang Zhongmou’s eyes, Jiang Shangyi is good at everything, but he is too old.

Zhang Zhongmou was 75 years old at that time, Jiang Shangyi was 60 years old, and the 75-year-old was handed over to the 60-year-old, and soon he would face personnel shocks, which Zhang Zhongmou did not want to see.

In 2006, knowing that he had no hope of succession, Jiang Shangyi gave birth to a retreat. Under Zhang Zhongmou’s persuasion, he came to a subsidiary of TSMC for retirement.

Jiang Shangyi’s position is vacated. Whose will be the position of Vice President of R&D?

Zhang Zhongmou also engaged in internal competition checks and balances, dividing the position of vice president of R&D into two, and one of them was given to Luo Weiren.

In another position, it is always Liang Mengsong’s turn.

However, it did not.

Zhang Zhongmou prefers Sun Yuancheng, a person who is also familiar with semiconductor research and development but is relatively sleek.

Liang Mengsong is already recognized as a semiconductor wizard, but with his unruly character, Zhang Zhongmou believes that he is not suitable for leadership.

Liang Mengsong, who lost in this personnel change, was arranged by Zhang Zhongmou to the “Super Moore’s Law Laboratory” and left his expertise in chip manufacturing research.

Liang Mengsong was disheartened. At this time, Samsung threw an olive branch, and his wife, who was a Korean flight attendant, lobbied. In 2009, he quit his job at TSMC in the name of teaching in South Korea.


As soon as Liang Mengsong left, TSMC’s 28nm process was delayed in mass production.

Zhang Zhongmou panicked, and he had to ask Jiang Shangyi, who had retired for three years, to come out again.

Jiang Shangyi once again returned to the core of TSMC’s power and served as TSMC’s deputy general manager and chairman’s advisor, which is Zhang Zhongmou’s personal advisor.

Jiang Shangyi’s goal is very clear. One is to continue to suppress Samsung technically, and the other is to prevent Liang Mengsong from helping Samsung in law.

In 2011, after the expiration of the competition agreement, Liang Mengsong officially joined Samsung and became the executive vice president and chief technology officer of Samsung foundry.

At that time, Samsung was also stuck in the technical bottleneck of the 28nm process down. This was a world problem, and Liang Mengsong mastered the method to solve the problem.

Liang Mengsong rejected all the controversies at Samsung and stopped R&D on the 20nm process and went directly to 14nm.

This seemed like an impossible task. Samsung won the gamble in this gamble, and Liang Mengsong made another outstanding achievement.

In 2014, Samsung’s 14nm process was successfully mass-produced, half a generation ahead of TSMC’s 16nm.

For this reason, Samsung has taken away a large number of orders for Apple mobile phones from TSMC.

The furious Zhang Zhongmou, under Jiang Shangyi’s execution, launched a fierce attack on Liang Mengsong.

For this reason, Liang Mengsong bears the infamy of a traitor.

After multiple rounds of litigation, TSMC has the key evidence. Liang Mengsong lost the lawsuit and he had to leave Samsung.

Liang Mengsong left the research work of the chip manufacturing process, just like a general left the battlefield, the hero is useless.

The grudge between him and Jiang Shangyi has deepened.

This gives SMIC, which is far away in Shanghai, an opportunity to take advantage of.

SMIC visited the thatched cottage three times and urged Liang Mengsong to open the conditions at will.

Liang Mengsong made a list of 200 people and asked SMIC to be equipped with the team members on the list.

In 2017, after SMIC recruited this team from TSMC, Liang Mengsong officially joined in.

At this time, SMIC is still struggling with the 28nm process, which is leftover by Samsung and TSMC. Even so, SMIC’s yield rate is still unstable.

The fierce man Liang Mengsong once again rejected the consensus, skipped the intermediate generation, and went straight to the 14nm process.

With the continuous efforts of Liang Mengsong’s team, in April 2019, SMIC’s 14nm process was officially mass-produced, and the yield rate increased from 3% to more than 95%.

A year later, SMIC’s 28nm, 14nm, and 12nm have all entered mass production, and the development of 7nm technology has also been completed.

Liang Mengsong once again created a miracle and amazed the world!

Before Liang Mengsong, SMIC took one step at a time and was struggling. After Liang Mengsong, it went directly to the 100-meter sprint and completed TSMC’s ten-year journey in three years.


When Liang Mengsong made great achievements in SMIC, Jiang Shangyi also came to the mainland and became the CEO of Wuhan Hongxin.

However, it turns out that Wuhan Hongxin is nothing but a complete scam.

Jiang Shangyi also became a victim of this scam. After Wuhan Hongxin was unfinished, he actually came to SMIC.

Without Liang Mengsong’s knowledge, Jiang Shangyi became the vice-chairman of SMIC and once again pressed Liang Mengsong.

After learning of this news, Liang Mengsong was shocked. The grievances accumulated over the years completely broke out at this moment, and he submitted his resignation to SMIC.

The huge shock in SMIC’s personnel affairs has aroused strong concern in the industry.

Under the reassurance of SMIC, Liang Mengsong did not leave SMIC and remained low-key for the company.

On November 11, SMIC’s announcement put an end to the grievances between Liang Mengsong and Jiang Shangyi.

Jiang Shangyi resigned as vice chairman, executive director, and member of the board strategy committee, and Liang Mengsong no longer served as an executive director, focusing on the responsibilities of the joint chief executive officer.

At this time, Jiang Shangyi was 75 years old and he was too old.

SMIC can be without Jiang Shangyi, but it cannot be without Liang Mengsong.

Liang Mengsong is also a 69-year-old man. He once said: I came to the mainland not for the sake of high-ranking officials, but simply wanted to do my part for the mainland’s high-end integrated circuits.

He donated all his income from SMIC to a technology development fund.

Liang Mengsong is a pure technical genius. He can’t go back to TSMC and Samsung. He needs the big stage of SMIC so that he can continue to contribute his light and heat.

He needs SMIC, and SMIC needs him more!

I hope Liang Mengsong will not be let down!