A report published by Taiwan’s Economic Daily (UDN) on Tuesday suggests a fab evaluation team from TSMC is planning to investigate sites within Germany. Reported as a rumor, a decision by the world’s largest contract chip maker to open a foundry in Germany could have a big impact on the region and affect rivals hoping to set up thriving semiconductor ecosystems on the continent like Intel.
Several ideas could be behind TSMC’s purported European expansion plans. First, the European continent is relatively affluent, with multiple modern industrialized nations that are home to many businesses requiring semiconductor components to finalize their products. Secondly, US-aligned countries like Taiwan don’t want to fall foul of US-China sanctions, so they are steering clear of establishing new semiconductor facilities in the communist party-controlled country. Lastly, as we see it, TSMC will not want Intel to dominate the European market once all its string of investments across Germany (mega site with two chip fabs), France (design and R&D hub), and Italy (advanced semiconductor packaging and assembly) are established on the doorstep of significant high-tech businesses in Europe like automotive, aerospace, and so on.
Sources speaking to UDN indicate that the idea of TSMC opening a fab in Europe is far from being set in stone, despite its attractions. They say the German government has invited TSMC to set up there, with a 12-inch wafer fab specifically mentioned. However, no decisions have been made as the TSMC fab evaluation team plans its jaunt in Germany. It would be good to hear some whispers about possible towns or cities that might be on TSMC’s shortlist, but we aren’t at such as stage yet. Another question is whether TSMC will be bold enough to go ahead with a leading edge fab in Germany or stick to the current policy of establishing older established nodes abroad while squirreling the crown jewels back at home in Taiwan.
Regarding TSMC’s German plans, there have been statements from Chairman Mark Liu, but only to say it was too early in the evaluation stages to confirm anything. In any case, for the time being, TSMC’s official comms are shuttered due to rules and regulations concerning material announcements ahead of earnings reports.
TSMC’s 3rd quarter earnings report will be published a week on Thursday (Oct 13) and followed by the usual earnings call. If the UDN reports prove to be true and fruitful, we hope we will soon be able to ponder over the scale of TSMC’s Europe plans and see how they measure up against those from Intel.
TSMC German expansion plan rumors last bubbled up back in the summer of 2021.