TSMC Founder Says Globalization Is Dead – Gains Strong Agreement From Media Mogul

Ramish Zafar
TSMC's chief executive officer, Dr. C.C. Wei. Image: UDN

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The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) founder Dr. Morris Chang believes that globalization is dead. Dr. Chang made his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony of TSMC's brand-new chipmaking facility in the United States, which marks a crucial shift in the firm's efforts to diversify its manufacturing footprint. The event was attended by high-profile guests, including President Joe Biden. The TSMC founder's sentiment was echoed by Mr. Xie Jinhe, the chairman of China's Caixin Media group, who went a step ahead and outlined at a separate occasion that not only is globalization dead, but that it has been dead for a while now.

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Dr. Chang is known for his sharp remarks and assessments of the global semiconductor industry - one which he spearheaded by setting up what is now the world's largest contract chip manufacturer. Since the Arizona fab was announced, he has consistently warned that operating it in the U.S. will be much more complex than in Taiwan, mainly due to higher costs and a different working culture.

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Dr. Chang was also the first person directly associated with TSMC to announce that the American fab will manufacture advanced semiconductors in line with the company's current facilities in Taiwan. TSMC announced 5-nanometer fabrication for the Arizona facility initially, but now, the fab has confirmed 3-nanometer production for the plant as well.

These now update the production plans to N4 in 2024, a jump from 5-nanometer. N4 is an advanced variant of the 5-nanometer process family and provides improved performance and power efficiency. Crucially though, was TSMC's announcement for 3-nanometer production, with the fab detailing that it will manufacture the advanced chips in 2026 by building a second fabrication facility.

TSMC's Arizona facility was pictured earlier this year. Image: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)

Speaking at the event in Arizona, Dr. Chang shared that his first attempt to build a chip plant in the U.S. in the mid 1990s saw him encounter several difficulties similar to the ones he had cautioned for the Arizona plant. He added that globalization and free trade are dead and are likely to remain so.

The former TSMC chief's sentiments were also echoed by Mr. Xie Jinhe of Caixin Media. In a Facebook post, Mr. Jinhe shared that the growing differences between the United States and China risk dividing the world into technological polar ends. He added that Dr. Chang's comments that globalization is dead are describing the situation too lightly, as, in his opinion, globalization has been dead for a long time.

TSMC's announcement that it will manufacture the 3-nanometer chips in 2026 in the U.S. means that the firm's most advanced facilities will continue to stay in Taiwan. Not only has 3-nanometer production started this year, but TSMC also plans to produce the more advanced 2-nanomter process in 2025 in its Taiwanese plants. 2-nanomter production is significantly different than the preceding technology, since it involves newer technologies and transistor designs - making it difficult to scale exiting 3-nanomter facilities to suit its demands.

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