TSMC considers US for 3nm wafer fab site

March 21, 2017 //By Peter Clarke
TSMC considers US for 3nm wafer fab site
Foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. is considering building a next-generation wafer fab with a nominal manufacturing node of 3nm in the US, according to reports.

TSMC is considering a number of locations – including the US – and the decision will be taken in the first half of 2018, a Bloomberg report quoted spokesperson Elizabeth Sun saying.

TSMC is world's largest foundry chip manufacturer and makes chips for a number of consumer electronics products including Apple's iPhone smartphones. The statements of President Trump about the need to bring jobs and investment to the country and the threat of tariffs may have helped get the US on to the short list of locations. Foxconn Technology Group, Apple's equipment assembly partner has also said it is considering building a factory in the US.

While Foxconn's plant could create thousands of jobs and is forecast to cost more than $7 billion, TSMC's 3nm wafer fab is expected to have a lifetime cost in excess of $16 billion.

TSMC has generally preferred to keep chip manufacturing in Taiwan claiming it provides advantages of economies of scale. It was expected to select Kaohsiung Science Park (KSP) in southern Taiwan where the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has promised to allocate land for the wafer fab, according to a Digitimes report.

TSMC has gone abroad to build wafer fabs before. It has a 200mm wafer fab in China and is planning to build a 300mm wafer in Nanjing. And in 1996 TMSC helped establish a joint venture wafer fab called WaferTech in Camas, Washington. TSMC has subsequently bought back the shares to make the wafer fab wholly-owned subsidiary.

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