TSMC Refuses To Comment On Advanced Chipmaking Plans For U.S. Plant

Ramish Zafar
Image courtesy: TSMC

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The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has refused to comment on reports that it will also manufacture semiconductors with the latest technologies in its U.S. chip plant. TSMC, which is the world's largest contract chip manufacturer, is building a multi billion dollar plant in Arizona. This facility will become operational in 2024, and so far, TSMC's plans have indicated that the firm will produce chips in it with the 5-nanometer chip manufacturing technology. However, TSMC's fabs in Taiwan have already started production with the newer 3-nanometer process, which is expected to become available to the general consumer after the second half of next year according to estimates.

TSMC Leaves Door Open To 4-nanometer Production at Arizona Plant

The debate around the newer technologies for the Arizona plant picked up the pace earlier this year when TSMC's founder Dr. Morris Chang shared that his former company will indeed make the newer chips in the U.S. Dr. Chang's comments mentioned the 3-nanometer technology, as the executive shared that TSMC has "plans" that remain unfinalized. Introducing a technology upgrade at a facility requires installing new machines and training employees, a process that often takes months if not years.

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Building upon his comments, Bloomberg, quoting unnamed sources, claimed earlier today that TSMC will build chips with the 4-nanometer technology in Arizona This technology is an advanced version of the 5-nanometer node that is planned for the Arizona fab, and should TSMC make the decision, then the tooling and other planning requirements will be significantly less when compared to the preparation needed for 3-nanometer production.

The 4-nanometer node should be used by several of TSMC's customers, particularly those in the personal computing segment. TSMC has designed the N4X process especially for high performance products such as data centers.

TSMC's founder Dr. Morris Chang.

Bloomberg also added that the shift comes due to pressure from Apple's chief Mr. Tim Cook. Apple is TSMC's largest customer and it is also the first to get access to the fab's advanced process technologies.

After the report came out, the United Daily News (UDN) reached out to TSMC to confirm whether the Arizona facility will also manufacture the newer chips. TSMC did not respond to the requests for comment, which leaves the door open for the new announcement. However, since the UDN's report was published after the business day ended in Taiwan, it is also possible that the request was sent out after office timings. However, it is more unlikely than likely for the company to announce 4-nanometer production in Arizona without first finalizing the plans internally.

The company is set to hold a ceremony for the Arizona facility on Tuesday next week, and after initial rumors, the White House has confirmed that President Biden will also visit. This facility will help the U.S. diversify its chip sourcing capabilities from Asia, and also help companies to procure their products closer to home.

The ceremony will mark the first machines arriving in Arizona, at a time when the global semiconductor industry is facing a slowdown after record growth in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. These machines are a valuable commodity, with newer technologies, particularly the 2-nanometer node to rely exclusively on even newer machines for production. TSMC plans to kick off 2-nanometer production in 2025, a year after the Arizona facility is planned to come online.

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