back to article TSMC to build new 5nm chip factory in Arizona with US government backing

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world's biggest chip maker, will build a $12bn chip factory in Arizona in what the company is calling a "strong partnership" with the US government. The new plant, announced today, will employ 1,600 people and make 5nm chips, the smallest, fastest, and most-power efficient chips …

  1. Mark192

    "The proposed rules would give the US Commerce Department the ability to block TSMC from selling its chips to Huawei"

    Make chips, sell them to Huawei, fewer orders for Chinese foundries.

    Don't sell chips to Huawei, market share and fat margins will be gifted to domestic Chinese foundries who will invest some of that in whatever is the next gen tech.

    For America to be a front runner it's got to sell to everybody.

  2. Chris G

    I suspect the difficulty in getting Asian chip makers to build factories innthe US is because the chip companies know a fair percentage of their new American staff will be working for the CIA or NSA.

    I also find it quite ironic that securing chip manufacturing to protect US National Defence means using Asian knowhow to do it.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      It's hardly ironic, it's the definition of brain drain and we've been doing that to ourselves for the past thirty years in the name of cutting costs.

      Well, we've cut costs to the point we don't know the job anymore. All those beancounters must be giddy with joy now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      TSMC is a chip foundry - they make chips designed by other companies, many US based (AMD, Apple, NVIDIA, Broadcom, Qualcomm, etc). The national defense concerns relate to the possibility that China may try to take over Taiwan at some point, as "Winnie the Pooh" has threatened. The concern isn't the know how needed to build the chip fabs as much as the capital investment and the time lag if China interferes with TSMC's production for US or other non-Chinese countries.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is primarily intended for the DoD/CIA/NSA

      That's the only explanation for making a fab that will be four years out of date when it is completed, and nowhere near the size of TSMC's Taiwan fabs at only 20K wafers per month. For scale, if that fab was solely dedicated to making Apple's iPhone/iPad SoCs and it yielded at 100%, it would meet less than 75% of Apple's yearly needs. TSMC's leading edge fabs serve not only Apple but also Qualcomm, Huawei, AMD, Nvidia, and so forth, and that's where all of them will continue having their chips made even after this fab is up and running because they will want to use TSMC's leading edge, not a by then two nodes out of date 5nm process.

      I think the US government wants dual sourcing and now that the former IBM fab (now owned by Global Foundries) in upstate New York is becoming more and more obsolete and won't be upgraded, they need another source aside from Intel.

  3. J. Cook Silver badge

    Part of the problem with the Foxconn deal in wisconsin was that the state gave them some monsterous tax offsets, and behaved pretty poorly in other ways. (like claiming eminent domain on some of the properties in the way of where the factory was going to be built, which included houses- that's not what that's for) And Foxconn kept changing it's position and scope of what they were going to build after they got those incentives...

    I'm hoping my state didn't do the same thing.

  4. Bitsminer Silver badge

    Willing is not the same as committed

    Junko Yoshida over at has a more political analysis. She points out that TMSC is only expressing their willingness to build a factory. It's never a done deal until the first chip wafers roll off the factory floor.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Willing is not the same as committed

      And I strongly suspect that TSMC will be under some pressure from the Taiwanese government to keep the core vital technologies in Taiwan. Having the USA worried about its strategic supply being in Taiwan is a reason for the USA to be militarily and diplomatically interested in maintaining Taiwanese independence. So I won’t be surprised if this new Arizonan factory takes quite a while to get going and is obsolete before it does.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ask the UK?

    Maybe the US could gain insights by asking about Siemens’ Tyneside DRAM fab and how well that went for them.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the low price of high tech

    Arizona Governor Ducey is quoted to have said "“TSMC ... chose Arizona for our unbeatable business climate ...." Right-to-work (i.e., right to get fired for any reason, or for no reason at all) labor pool, little state-level interest in environmental protections (Arizona is a desert and if semiconductor manufacture requires much water -- does it? -- this could/should be a concern), emphasis on tax breaks for the corporate class, and all that before any specific TSMC giveaway goodie bags have been assembled. Curious to see if this winds up being another Theranos or Uber automated cars endeavour salivatingly sought by a governor so eager to have some shiny hi-tech bona fides that the state did not take a close look under the hood (or, if they did, decided that the "what could possibly go wrong?" was worth a handful of glitzy press conferences). One hopes this one will actually work out, provide Arizonans with decent (not call-center, not warehouse, not fast-food) jobs, and help the country avoid some of the tremors inherent to global business interconnection, but past experience gives cause for skepticism.

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