According to a Nikkei Asian Review report today, the U.S. government continues to pressure TSMC to make some of its chips, including those used in Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets, in the U.S. in fears of interference from the Chinese government.
This isn't the first time we've heard claims that the U.S. government is pressuring TSMC some of its chip production, as Bloomberg reported the same thing in November. At the time, TSMC chairman Mark Liu said the company didn't want to make that move.
TSMC's apparently a bit more diplomatic now.
"We have never ruled out building or acquiring a fab [semiconductor fabrication plant] in the United States, but currently there is no concrete plan," the company told Nikkei.
The report also said that the U.S. government's requests were more specific than previously thought. The U.S. has reportedly pushed TSMC to make "military-use chips" in the U.S. and doesn't seem concerned about other chips.
"We've noticed that many U.S. tech executives and government officials are concerned about their country's dependence on TSMC and the security of their defense industry’s supply chains," Taiwan Institute for National Defense and Security Research Director Su Tze-yun told Nikkei.
"That’s why the U.S. constantly hopes that TSMC could stand with them to make chips somewhere else other than just Taiwan, which they think is not completely safe because China has not ruled out the possibility of taking control of the island by force."
Those efforts aren't likely to end any time soon. With tension between the U.S. and China continuing to mount--even as the countries reportedly near a trade agreement--we suspect U.S. officials will continue to push TSMC to move.
Given how long military hardware stays in service. That Fab could continue in service for a long time.
Pay TSMC the cost to build a new one, and then licensing royalties. But let the US Gov't keep it and admin it. That way it can't be changed or shut down on a whim due to the Chinese Gov't.
$9.3Billion is not a drop in the bucket... Unless you have a bucket that only contains 75 drops, but that's smaller than a teaspoon, according to google.
If your bucket holds 5 gallons, 9.3 billion is about the size of an 8 ounce cup.
..and then you have to decide what other programs get shut down and who gets laid off in order to free up that cup in the bucket.
Assuming the fab ran for only five years. When amortized for five years it would only be 0.27% of the DOD yearly budget. That's a small price to pay for chip manufacturing security. Although it would likely be used for much longer. Given how long military tech stays in service.
That security would mean the DOD has a reliable source of chips in times of war. Not only that. A source free of potentially malicious embedded chips. Assuming the US Gov admins it and pays licensing rights instead. As @digitalgriffin suggested.
The cost could be further offset by other government departments. As agencies like the NSA, Homeland Security, NASA, DOE, SEC, &c would also use the locally sourced chips.
They are an interesting pair of words to vary by one letter only.