TSMC announces plans to build advanced semiconductor fab in the US

Written by Jennifer Allen

May 19, 2020 | 13:00

Tags: #business #process-nodes #trade-wars

Companies: #smic #tsmc

It's all go in the world of advanced chip manufacturing and trade wars with the US government convincing TSMC to build and operate an advanced semiconductor fab in the US, before China announcing investment plans too.

The big news initially was associated with TSMC. Presumably, with the US keen to be self-sufficient when it comes to semiconductors, TSMC has secured the mutual understanding and commitment of support from the US federal government and the state of Arizona with a bid to start construction on a plant there in 2021. 

The facility will be designed for 5nm semiconductor wafer fabrication with production aiming for a 2024 start date. The fab should achieve 20,000 semiconductor wafer per month capacity when it's up and running, creating 1,600 high-tech professional jobs directly, along with an unspecified amount of jobs indirectly within the semiconductor ecosystem. TSMC will invest around $12 billion US from 2021 to 2029 into the facility. 

This isn't the first fab in the US for TSMC with one already located in Camas, Washington, along with design centres in Austin, Texas and San Jose, California, but it's a big coup for the US nonetheless. 

It's worth noting that while 5nm is currently TSMC's most advanced manufacturing process at the moment, it won't be in 2024 but it'll still be an important process even with 3nm likely to be available by then. It should make it the most advanced contract fab in the United States either way. 

The US and China aren't exactly on good terms right now thanks to growing tensions between their leaders and issues surrounding the security of Huawei devices, so perhaps that explains why China has gone on the offensive and immediately pumped a lot of investment into a local chipmaker instead. According to reports by South China Morning Post via Tom's Hardware, China has just invested $2.2 billion into Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), its largest domestic chipmaker. That comes at the same time as news that TSMC isn't taking any new orders from Huawei. 

Who produces what process nodes has just got a lot more politically charged than ever before with both China and the US clearly keen to be ahead of the other.

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