TSMC will start moving equipment into its new US plant by Q1 next year, says a report published by Taiwan's Commercial Times. The financial newspaper cites unnamed industry sources, so please take this information with a pinch of salt. As a reminder, the facility under construction in Arizona will be dubbed Fab21 and will be used for producing TSMC's 5nm process family for its many clients.
The fab TSMC is constructing in Arizona will be outputting chips at 5nm, 5nm Enhanced, and 4nm – what TSMC refers to as its N5, N5P and N4 processes. The world's largest contract chipmaker will have this US-based facility up and running by Q1 2024 pushing out 20,000 wafers per month.
Remember, TSMC will continue to develop its cutting-edge leading fabs in Taiwan. However, it is something of a safety net for it to expand overseas, to places like the US and Japan. Of course, this safety net might be useful with the geopolitical risk facing Taiwan.
The source publication discusses the full gamut of TSMC's current building plans at home and abroad. In summary, there are several new fabs now being readied in Taiwan for processes as advanced as 2nm. Meanwhile, the US-based Fab21 will be readied for 5nm / 4nm processes, and the Japanese JASM fab for 28/22nm initially, then 16/12nm. The facility in Japan will largely be used to support the sizable imaging and auto industries.
Previous Reports Concerning Delays
In mid February we noted rumors about possible delays facing TSMC's plans build and commission its new US fab in Arizona. At the time some insiders highlighted teething issues in the development, including; difficulty in recruiting qualified and experienced staff; workforce having to take time off for Covid isolation; and US building regulations/licensing.
These hurdles and unfamiliar circumstances for TSMC were said to have put the Arizona fab plans between three to six months behind schedule. Despite the issues, TSMC's mass production start target of early 2024 was still considered to be achievable. In our report we noted that the US plant had been given about six months more time from breaking ground to mass production than TSMC usually estimates for its home turf developments.
TSMC and Intel's Relationship
Intel's recently launched Arc Alchemist laptop GPUs use TSMC's 6nm process. According to roadmaps we have seen Intel will stick to producing its iGPUs using an 'external' fab (like TSMC) through 2024. At that time its CPUs will have already progressed to Intel 18A. Thus it looks unlikely that Intel will be making use of TSMC Fab21 (5nm family) in Arizona for any CPUs or GPUs.