Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is planning to offer advanced 4-nanometer chips when its new US$12 billion plant in Arizona opens in 2024, an upgrade from its previous public statements, after US customers such as Apple Inc pushed the company to do so, according to people familiar with the matter.
TSMC is expected to announce the new plan when US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visit the facility near Phoenix for a ceremony on Tuesday next week, the people said.
The TSMC plant had been slated to make 5-nanometer semiconductors, a standard that would be far from the cutting edge by 2024.
Photo: Lam Yik Fei, Bloomberg
The company would also commit to adding a second nearby plant, which would make even more advanced 3-nanometer chips, they said.
TSMC previously said it would make 20,000 wafers per month at the Arizona facility, although production might increase from those original plans, the people said.
Apple would use about one-third of the output as production gets under way.
Apple and other major tech companies rely on TSMC for their chipmaking needs, and the change means they would be able to get more of their processors from the US.
Apple CEO Tim Cook previously told employees that his company plans to source chips from the Arizona plant.
Cook is scheduled to attend the event next week, the people said.
A representative for TSMC declined to comment.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Supply chain disruptions and trade tensions with China have fueled efforts to bring more manufacturing to the US and Europe.
US lawmakers in August passed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act, which offers US$50 billion in incentives for companies looking to create semiconductors in the country. TSMC is likely to receive billions in subsidies.
The possibility of China taking over Taiwan also has sparked concerns about relying on the nation for so much of the semiconductor industry’s current supply. TSMC is the world’s go-to supplier for chips powering everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. Most of its production is in Taiwan.
In addition to Apple, TSMC customers such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc and Nvidia Corp have asked the Hsinchu-headquartered company to make more sophisticated chips at the Arizona plant, the sources said.
AMD CEO Lisa Su (蘇姿丰) and Nvidia cofounder Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) are also expected to attend the event.
Representatives for AMD and Nvidia declined to comment.
The sources said that TSMC’s customers have asked the company to roll out its latest technologies simultaneously in Taiwan and the US, which would help fulfill a goal set by the Biden administration, which seeks to have the most cutting-edge chips in the world produced on US soil.
However, TSMC has not committed to that approach, and Taiwanese government and company officials have said that they intend to keep the latest technology at home.
In Taipei, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said Biden’s attendance showed the importance he attached to TSMC’s investment.
“I think we will form a good supply relationship with the United States,” she told reporters.
TSMC’s Arizona factory has sparked concerns in Taiwan about a “goodbye to Taiwan” trend among chip firms. TSMC is also building a factory in Japan.
However, Wang said that most chips would still be made in Taiwan despite the US and Japanese plans.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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