TSMC founder and government trade envoy for Taiwan, Morris Chang, has confirmed plans for 3nm chip production at the new TSMC Arizona fab. After a talk of TSMC reserving leading-edge production to facilities on its home turf, plans to ready 3nm output in Arizona haven’t looked likely, until recently.
Mr. Chang clearly outlined TSMC’s 3nm Arizona plans at a press conference with reporters in Taipei, fresh from his return from the weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Thailand. When asked about 3nm in Arizona, Chang told reporters that TSMC has plans for the more advanced process, but they were not yet completely finalized. “It has almost been finalised - in the same Arizona site, phase two,” clarified the semiconductor industry veteran. “Five-nanometre is phase one, 3-nanometre is phase two.”
During the APEC event, Chang met with a number of political and business leaders, with several asking him about possible TSMC expansions in their countries. Reports say Mr. Chang had meetings with United States Vice President Kamala Harris, Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平), and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida over the weekend. TSMC’s strategies in the US and Japan are already being enacted upon, but it's unclear if other APEC countries are yet beyond the consideration stages.
Chipmaking factory preparations in Arizona appear to be going smoothly for TSMC. Phase one of the fab is almost ready to receive the necessary high-tech equipment for production. On December 6, there will be a so-called ‘tool-in’ ceremony, where the first machines will start to be installed in phase one of the development. With buildings and machines on track, there continues to be worries about personnel though, with friction expected between the working cultures of Taiwanese and US engineers.
TSMC shouldn’t be short of advanced process chip customers in the US. Recently we reported on Apple’s confirmed plans to use TSMC fabbed chips from Arizona. US production runs of TSMC N5, N5P, N4, N4P, and N4X chips are expected to start in 2024. Now we know 3nm family chips will be coming from TSMC Arizona (phase two) in due course. All this positive news for TSMC and demand for its output makes Warren Buffet’s $5B investment a week ago look rather canny.