The head of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. last week confirmed that the company had begun to explore possibilities of building a semiconductor manufacturing fab in the United States. While the market observers in general believe that TSMC’s interest in the U.S. is a result of its plan to produce chips for Apple, the foundry denies this.
“The U.S. is one of the places [to build a new fab] under consideration. But this has nothing to do with Apple,” said Morris Chang, the chief executive and chairman of TSMC, at the company’s supply chain management forum, reports Taipei Times web-site.
The interest of TSMC to build a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the U.S. could be very real. The company is looking forward to expand its businesses and remain competitive against Globalfoundries, Samsung Semiconductor and United Microelectronics Corp.
Numerous chips that are designed for devices to be used by various U.S. government organizations need to be made in the country. TSMC already owns WaferTech facility in Camas, Washington, but the facility processes 200mm wafers and is currently considered as outdated. Moreover, WaferTech is also a small facility that cannot produce chips in quantities required by the world’s leading fabless chip designers, such as Apple, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm and other.
TSMC currently makes chips for AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm, but is also negotiating with Apple over manufacturing of next-generation system-on-chip products for Apple’s consumer electronics, such as Apple iPhone, iPad and other. Currently Samsung Semiconductor solely produces A-series SoCs for Apple in its Austin, Texas facilities. A large 300mm or 450mm fab in New York could enable TSMC to produce chips using leading-edge process technologies not only for its current clients in the U.S., but also for Apple. A contract with the latter should be a very interesting deal for the Hsinchu, Taiwan-based semiconductor manufacturer.