TSMC to roll out 3nm chips in U.S.: Morris Chang

11/21/2022 03:25 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) Morris Chang (張忠謀), founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), said on Monday that the world's largest contract chipmaker will expand its investment in the U.S. state of Arizona and produce chips made using the advanced 3 nanometer process.

At a news conference held one day after Chang returned from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Thailand where he served as the envoy of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), TSMC's investment in the United States was the focus of reporters from local and foreign news outlets.

Chang said TSMC will introduce the 3nm process to the U.S., the first confirmation of the next phase of the chipmaker's expansion plans following the current US$12 billion plan to build a complex in Arizona with production scheduled to begin in 2024, using the 5nm process, the most recent technology for which TSMC has launched mass production.

The Arizona plan was announced in May 2020 at a time when then U.S. President Donald Trump was urging manufacturers in the global tech supply chain to move from China to the U.S. According to TSMC CEO C.C. Wei (魏哲家), the company received strong support from its clients for the company's Arizona plant.

Last week, a Wall Street Journal report said TSMC was preparing another multibillion-dollar factory investment in Arizona, while the company declined to confirm, saying only that it had not yet finalized plans to build a second chip manufacturing plant in the U.S. state.

At the news conference, Chang, who has been called "the godfather" of Taiwan's semiconductor industry, said when the Arizona plant becomes operational using the 5nm process, TSMC will already have started production using the 3nm process.

TSMC's 3nm process is scheduled to begin mass production in Tainan, southern Taiwan, later this year, while the chipmaker is developing the more sophisticated 2nm process in Hsinchu in the north with production likely to begin in 2025.

At an earlier news conference held in Bangkok on Saturday after the APEC summit wrapped up, Chang told reporters that he met with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on the sidelines of the meeting during which time they mainly discussed chips.

The 91-year-old Chang said he told Harris that TSMC has invited the U.S. secretary of commerce and its "grand alliance" partners to a "tool-in" ceremony on Dec. 6, which will mark the installation of the first batch of production equipment at the Arizona plant.

Chang said on Monday that TSMC has invited U.S. congress members and the Arizona governor to the ceremony, adding U.S. President Joe Biden has also been invited but he was not sure whether the president would attend.

Chang said on Monday that Taiwan's semiconductor industry is the "envy" of the world as chips have become an essential product to the economy and even national security.

During the APEC summit, Chang said, the heads of several countries made inquiries about the possibility of TSMC producing chips in their home countries in the future, but added that the company was unlikely to diversify its production as broadly as those countries wanted. Chang declined to reveal which countries sought TSMC investment.

In addition to Arizona, TSMC is also building a fab in Japan, which will roll out specialty chips in 2024 using the company's mature 22nm and 28nm specialty technologies. International news media has reported that TSMC is also studying the likelihood of building a wafer plant in Germany.

Earlier this year, Chang expressed skepticism over the potential success of the Arizona plant because of the high cost of operating in the U.S. and the potential lack of suitable workers.

When asked about those concerns Saturday, Chang doubled down, emphasizing that he "not only believes but knows" costs in the U.S. will be about 55 percent higher than in Taiwan.

Commenting on the APEC summit, Chang said on Monday that it was his idea to congratulate China President Xi Jinping (習近平) for the success of the Chinese Communist Party's recent 20th national congress, in which Xi secured a third term as general secretary of the CCP, when they met on the sidelines.

Chang said he also talked about his health with Xi, adding that the Presidential Office had instructed him not to avoid any chance to meet Xi and say hello.

Chang said he had executed his job as Tsai's enjoy to the APEC summit "perfectly," adding that he conveyed the president's message in the meetings he held.

The three major points of Tsai's message to the APEC summit were the need to find a balance between a free market and fair competition, Taiwan's willingness to work with its partners under APEC to reinforce the resilience of the global supply chain, and Taiwan's efforts toward net zero emissions by 2025, in the wake of the impact resulting from climate change.

Deputy Secretary-General of the National Security Council Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) said President Tsai expressed gratitude to Chang for his role as envoy to the APEC summit delivering the president's message and recognized what Chang accomplished in his meetings and interactions with the leaders of other APEC members.

This was the sixth time Chang has served as Taiwan's envoy to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting.

Founded in 1989, APEC is an inter-governmental forum of 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Taiwan joined APEC as a full member under the name Chinese Taipei in 1991.

Chang first attended the APEC forum on behalf of Taiwan's president in 2006 during Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) administration.

(By Pan Tzu-yu and Frances Huang)

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