Expanded US chip fab: TSMC fails $40 billion


The sparrows whistled from the rooftops, now it's official: TSMC's previously planned small Fab 21 in the desert state of Arizona is being massively expanded with a lot of money. Instead of 12 billion US dollars, a total of 40 billion US dollars will be invested, but in the end 600,000 wafers will come out of it per year including the latest N3 chips.

These are numbers, that the United States and especially the government like to hear. After all, they also make a large contribution with tax money: more than 10,000 workers on the construction site, later 10,000 employees around the factory, 4,500 employees directly at TSMC. TSMC's semiconductor factory, originally planned as a small Fab 21, is now taking on significantly larger dimensions, which also includes the technologies.

As TSMC finally announced this afternoon, Fab 21 will be expanded to include a second phase. This will even be a bit larger than the first construction, which was planned for 20,000 wafers per month and was recently corrected upwards by probably ten to a maximum of 20 percent, the second phase will scratch the 30,000 wafer mark right away are manufactured there each month. In the end, you can easily get the more than 600,000 wafers per year that TSMC promises.

In the series of factories, the location in the USA is no longer a tiny one, but it is also not the largest. Two phases are simply not enough for this. In the home country of Taiwan, up to nine phases will be set up for some of the factories, each with a capacity of 30,000 to 35,000 wafers per month. In the end, these make up the gigafabs, which can easily expose millions of wafers a year.

With N3E, you can also hold your own against Intel “next door”. The new factory will no longer just consist of N5 chips and the refresh N4, but an N3 line including the N3E. This means that it will still be one of the figureheads in the world in 2026, when it is supposed to be completed, although there will probably already be lighthouse projects for N2.

However, TSMC's Chairman Mark Liu insisted on teasing Intel, which is also planning large plants with modern manufacturing and in the same state of Arizona.

When complete, TSMC Arizona aims to be the greenest semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States producing the most advanced semiconductor process technology in the country, enabling next generation high-performance and low-power computing products for years to come,”

Mark Liu

The water problem in the desert state

The water problem in the almost desert state Arizona also wants TSMC to consider. There have recently been significant problems here, TSMC wants – or even has to – set up an on-site Industrial Water Reclamation Plant. This should enable the location to achieve near zero liquid discharge. For the year 2023, the region is currently preparing for further savings in water, so an announcement of a huge factory for locals probably comes at the wrong time.