TSMC confirms German, Japanese fab plans

July 26, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
TSMC confirms German, Japanese fab plans
TSMC is in discussions with customers over the setting up of wafer fabs in both Germany and Japan, chairman Mark Liu told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting on July 26, according to reports.

"We're in the preliminary stage of reviewing whether to go to Germany," Nikkei Asia Review quoted Liu telling shareholders at the company's annual general meeting. "It's still very early, but we are seriously evaluating it, and [a decision] will depend on our customers' needs."

Liu was also reported saying TSMC is considering whether to build a wafer fab in Japan. There had been previous reports that TSMC was looking to support major customer Sony with a Japanese wafer fab from 2023. It is reported that TSMC is planning a 28nm fab in Japan capable of 40,000 wafer starts per month to supply Sony with image sensors. Liu said that TSMC has conducted due diligence on the proposal but that the cost of operating in Japan is an issue. "The cost to build and operate a chip plant in Japan is much higher than doing so in Taiwan…..we are directly discussing with our clients ways to narrow the cost gap there," Nikkei quoted Liu telling shareholders.

The moves into Germany and Japan would be a break with TSMC's long-standing policy of focusing the majority of its production on a few sites in Taiwan. TSMC has built fabs in the US (Wafertech) and in China in the past. It has also committed to building a major chip facility in Arizona.

However, Liu also said TSMC agrees with founder Morris Chang's recent remarks that efforts with goal of total regional self-sufficiency would be wasted (see TSMC founder warns 'on-shoring' chip manufacturing could backfire). Liu said that aside from issues over national and regional security, a free market was the best way for chip business and the development of semiconductor technology.

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