According to the latest report from Reuters, the global foundry leader TSMC is planning to build the world’s top 3nm or even 2nm process chip factory in Arizona, United States, or it will cost tens of billions of dollars.
Prior to this, global leading chip manufacturers such as TSMC and Samsung have all reported plans to set up factories in the United States. In March of this year, it was reported that TSMC planned to build six 5nm process chip factories in Arizona; Samsung was reported to plan to invest in a 3nm chip factory in Texas, USA.
If this rumor is true, the United States may become the “battlefield” for top players in the global chip manufacturing field to battle 3nm and even more advanced processes in the future.
TSMC may produce 2nm chips in Phoenix
According to Reuters, TSMC will build up to six factories in Arizona, and last year TSMC announced that the chip factory to be built in the region was only the first.
According to people familiar with the matter, TSMC’s management is now discussing whether to use a more advanced 3nm process in the next plant in Arizona. If the 3nm process is adopted, the chip factory cost may be between 23 billion US dollars and 25 billion US dollars.
The person familiar with the matter also said: “Because the (TSMC) Phoenix, Arizona plant will be expanded in the next 10 to 15 years, TSMC’s management has also drafted a plan to produce 2nm and more advanced process chips in Phoenix.”
TSMC did not comment on the report, but TSMC CEO Wei Zhejia mentioned last month that TSMC’s “further expansion is possible” in Arizona. The company will evaluate factory production efficiency and customer needs before deciding on the next step.
Due to the relatively high construction cost of chip factories, the financial subsidies provided by the United States have become the “sweet pastry” of many chip manufacturers. The President of the United States previously called for US$50 billion to support local chip manufacturing, and this call may receive a response from the US Senate as early as this week. At that time, TSMC may compete with companies such as Intel and Samsung for this financial subsidy.
Although some US government officials worry that the financial subsidies given to TSMC may help Taiwan’s chip industry and promote Taiwan’s chip technology, the subsidy program still includes TSMC.
TSMC’s 5nm process has a monthly production capacity of over 100,000 wafers
Although the global top chip manufacturing players led by TSMC have begun to deploy 3nm and even more advanced process R&D and production, the most advanced chip process that can be mass-produced is still 5nm.
According to media reports, the current production capacity of TSMC’s 5nm process is mainly concentrated in the Fab-18 plant in Tainan Science Park. This plant is TSMC’s fourth super-large fab. While producing 5nm chips, part of its production capacity is also used for research and development to accelerate the technological development of 3nm, 2nm and other processes.
According to industry chain sources, the monthly production capacity of TSMC’s 5nm process technology reached 90,000 wafers per month in the fourth quarter of last year, and it will continue to increase to about 105,000 wafers in the first half of this year. It is planned to reach 12 per month in the second half of this year. Million pieces.
Last year, TSMC announced that it would invest between US$10 billion and US$12 billion to build a new 5nm chip factory in Phoenix, Arizona. Compared with Fab-18, the plant is smaller in scale and is expected to produce 20,000 wafers per month.
To this end, TSMC this year hired Benjamin Miller, who has been with Intel for 25 years, as the human resources director in Arizona, and it also hired 250 local engineers.
About 100 engineers and their families have arrived in Tainan, Taiwan. These engineers will complete a 12 to 18-month training program before returning to Arizona.
Samsung and Intel have invested money to build factories
In addition to TSMC, Samsung also used EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography technology to mass produce 5nm chips last year, and its production capacity is mainly concentrated in the chip factory in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.
In addition, Samsung plans to build another $17 billion factory near Austin, Texas, USA. Related documents show that Samsung is preparing to produce “advanced logic devices” at the new plant. Some people speculate that the plant may become the first fab in the US to use a 3nm process.
Intel also announced an investment of US$20 billion in March this year to build two wafer fabs in Arizona, USA, and restart foundry services.
Outside the United States, Intel is also seeking to establish chip factories in Europe, which is in line with the European Union’s plan to enhance chip manufacturing capabilities. The EU aims to bring Europe’s share of the global semiconductor production market to 20% within ten years, and have a fab capable of producing advanced 2nm chips.
This month, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (Pat Gelsinger) met with EU Marketing Commissioner Thierry Breton (Thierry Breton) in Brussels. After the meeting, Kissinger said in an interview that Intel is willing to build a semiconductor factory in Europe, but hopes to receive 8 billion euros (about 10 billion US dollars) in EU subsidies.
Unlike Intel’s intention to build a factory in Europe, a TSMC spokesperson said that TSMC currently has no plans to build a factory in Europe. This may be because European market revenue only accounts for less than 6% of TSMC’s total sales, and most European customers buy automotive chips with lower profits and more mature processes. This may lead to TSMC’s lack of motivation to build the top 3nm in Europe. Process chip factory.
In contrast, TSMC’s most important customers, such as Apple, are in the United States, and its North American market revenue accounts for 67% of TSMC’s total sales. Therefore, in addition to obtaining financial subsidies from the U.S. government for building factories in the United States, TSMC is likely to strengthen cooperation with customers such as Apple and AMD.
Conclusion: TSMC is already at the center of the global storm
Under the influence of factors such as the epidemic and lack of cores, the current global industrial countries are extremely concerned about semiconductor supply chain issues, and the world’s top chip manufacturers, represented by TSMC, Samsung, and Intel, are becoming active in North America, Europe, Japan and other countries. Object.
At present, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics is still the strongest rival of TSMC. On the one hand, it is building advanced chip factories in the United States like TSMC, and on the other hand, it continues to increase investment. According to the latest news, in the next ten years, South Korea plans to spend approximately US$450 billion to establish the world’s largest chip manufacturing base. Samsung plans to invest 171 trillion won (approximately 150.6 billion US dollars) in the system semiconductor (System LSI) business including foundry. US dollars).
TSMC, which has been involved in the center of the geopolitical storm, is facing the problem of how to resolve political sensitivities on the one hand, and on the other hand, it must maintain its current leading edge in chip manufacturing technology and the market. And every move of TSMC in the future will continue to receive the attention of the global technology industry.