TSMC aims to build an advanced 3nm chip fab in Arizona – Arizona

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has announced plans to build a new 3-nanometer chip manufacturing facility in Arizona, which will be adjacent to a 5-nm facility already under construction and scheduled to open in 2024.

News of the company’s plan came from its founder, Morris Chang (pictured), who told Reuters the details weren’t finalized. However, if TSMC continues, the new facility would be an expansion of its existing location in Phoenix, Arizona.

The plan shows that TSMC is looking to establish a larger presence in the US for its most advanced chip manufacturing operations, which are currently limited to Taiwan and China.

The move poses a threat to Intel Corp. which is struggling to catch up with TSMC and Samsung Electronics Co. with its own advanced chip manufacturing capabilities. Intel hopes to have its next-gen manufacturing process up and running by 2025, and launch a foundry business making chips for other chip designers to surpass Samsung and get closer to TSMC.

As part of this initiative, Intel has announced plans to build next-generation chip fabs in Arizona and Ohio. The US government has welcomed both Intel and TSMC’s plans as it aims to restore its domestic chip manufacturing industry for reasons of national security. Numerous voices in the US government have expressed concern that their chip supplies are at risk due to their reliance on foreign chipmakers, and there is a determination to ensure China does not have access to the most advanced chip technologies.

If TSMC builds a 3nm factory in the US, it would be in a much better position to compete with Intel for customers looking to have their advanced chips manufactured domestically. Many companies are believed to be interested in securing a supply of US-made chips to reduce their dependence on Asian manufacturers. For example, if China invaded Taiwan, it would likely strangle the world’s chip supply chain, since the island nation is currently the main supplier of the most advanced microprocessors.

Another reason for TSMC’s interest in the US seems to be Apple Inc. Last week, Bloomberg reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook was interested in sourcing chips domestically to reduce its own reliance on Taiwan. Cook didn’t name any suppliers, but it’s likely he’d be happy to buy TSMC’s chips if they’re made in the US given the existing relationship between the two companies.

For its part, while Intel plans to have its own Arizona factory up and running by 2024, Intel Foundry Services’ custom chip manufacturing business is still largely untested, and the company’s most advanced process still trails that of TSMC. The Taiwanese company has already started volume production of its most advanced 3nm node in Taiwan, while Intel’s competing Intel 3 node — a 7nm process — won’t be ready until the second half of next year.

Intel has said it will surpass both TSMC and Samsung in process performance by 2025, but it remains to be seen if the company will deliver on that promise given its recent delays.

Photo: Reuters

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