TSMC delays second Arizona chip foundry

TSMC, the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world, will delay the opening of the second of its two US-based foundries, the company announced today during its quarterly earnings call.

The first such foundry, announced in 2020, has already been delayed past its initial opening date of late 2024 — thanks, in part, to labor disputes over safety issues, workers imported from overseas, and workforce development programs. The labor dispute was resolved in December after the company reached an agreement with local unions, but TSMC had already pushed the initial production date for that facility to 2025.

The second foundry, whose opening was delayed today, is designed to produce some of the company’s most advanced chips, which use a 3nm process. TSMC has said it expects a wide range of uses for the chips, including high-performance computing and automotive customers. In an earnings call early Thursday, TSMC Chair Mark Liu said the second facility is still under construction, but the process and production to take place there is now uncertain.

“What technology [is] in that shell is still under discussion,” he said. “And I think that also has to do…with how much incentive the US government can provide.”

TSMC said that the second foundry is now set to open in 2027 or 2028, not, as the company had previously said, in 2026. The chipmaker said the two combined foundries will represent $40 billion in direct investment.

According to Mario Morales, a group vice president at IDC, TSMC’s delay is all about the CHIPS and Science Act, which was passed in 2022 and held out the promise of substantial grants to chipmakers in exchange for locating semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the US. With the exception of one R&D project, which was related to an active US government program, no grants have been disbursed.

“[TSMC is] waiting to make sure the application is awarded to them for the facilities in Arizona,” Morales said.

The eventual opening of the Arizona foundries will advance the state of domestic silicon manufacturing substantially, he said, given that TSMC, along with other firms in Taiwan and in South Korea, have made the most technological advancements in the sector.

“TSMC caters to hundreds of different customers, and the largest ones are US companies, like Apple, Qualcomm, Broadcom, AMD, and Intel,” Morales said. “It just takes time – that whole office for the government is still being constructed, and they have to hire a lot of people and do their due diligence [on grant applications.]”

Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.


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