The international IC semiconductor shortage that has impacted everything from phones to cars has pushed Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to consider supersizing its Arizona Fab (integrated circuit fabrication) project even as locals wait for construction to begin on the first one. Hatched during the previous U.S. presidential administration, the initial single-fab strategy was intended to process up to 20,000 12″ wafers using the firm’s modern 5nm process. Each wafer typically contains dozens of individual ICs.
Though the new fab would have been completed just in time to see the firm’s 3nm node introduced, ramping it up to volume production could have taken the firm until 2024. Yet old processes don’t die quickly, as most ICs must be redesigned to take advantage of additional miniaturization. Given that many of the ICs in short supply require even older production techniques, the lack of additional detail regarding which processes these additional fabs will support is unsurprising.
Regardless of which products TSMC hopes to produce at its additional five facilities, placing these stateside is likely to be a great way for the firm to protect production against its homeland’s water crisis as well as recently displayed Chinese aggression.
Update: A June 12 report (Korean) indicates the TSMC plans to complete and evaluate Phase 1 before moving forward with the expansion, with a potential construction plan signing date in 2024. Another report indicates that this expansion talk comes under pressure of the current U.S. Presidential administration, which is concerned about any threat to US semiconductor supply that China may pose to manufacturers in Taiwan. That discussion has given rise to further elaboration concerning a chip packaging plant in the same location. Additional comments by TSMC can be found in those reports.