7nm process hub in Kaohsiung? TSMC does not rule it out

09/07/2021 03:36 PM
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A TSMC factory in Tainan. CNA file photo
A TSMC factory in Tainan. CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) said it was not ruling out any possibility after local media reported that the world's largest contract chipmaker is planning to build a new 7-nanometer hub in Kaohsiung.

In a statement, TSMC did not directly respond to the report but said it has used Taiwan as its major production hub during its global expansion and did not rule out the possibility of investing in Kaohsiung.

TSMC said setting up a new plant requires the careful evaluation of various factors, and it will continue to seek out land in cities like Hsinchu, Taichung and Kaohsiung to expand its production capacity.

The chipmaker said it will make any expansion plan public when it is finalized.

Currently, TSMC is rolling out chips made on the advanced 7nm process in a plant in the Central Taiwan Science Park in Taichung.

The Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported that TSMC is planning to invest hundreds of billions of Taiwan dollars in Kaohsiung as the city hopes to become the chipmaker's 7nm process development hub.

The report said TSMC is expected to build the 7nm process hub on the 169.5-hectare site of CPC Corp. Taiwan's old naphtha cracking complex, which was shut down in 2015.

The report said TSMC is scheduled to launch its Kaohsiung investment plan in 2023.

In August, local news media reported that Kaohsiung authorities had talks with TSMC to get an idea of what the chipmaker needed to be able to invest in the city, and it raised the possibility of helping TSMC secure the land once used by the CPC naphtha cracking plant.

On Tuesday, the Economic Daily News said TSMC is initially planning to build six 7nm plants in Kaohsiung and use the city as its global hub for 7nm process development.

Analysts said TSMC now accounts for 85 percent of global 7nm process production capacity, and the investment in Kaohsiung, if it pans out, will be aimed at boosting production to meet rising demand for Internet of Things and automotive electronics applications.

The 5nm process is TSMC's most advanced technology to enter into mass production, with a 5nm foundry in Tainan operating since the second quarter of last year.

The chipmaker is building a 3nm process fab in Tainan, which is scheduled to start mass production in the second half of next year.

In addition, TSMC is investing US$12 billion to build a 5nm process plant in the U.S. state of Arizona and production is scheduled to begin in 2024.

TSMC has also said it is considering investment in Germany and Japan and expanding in the U.S. to meet strong demand from its customers in those markets.

On its website, TSMC said it owns four 12-inch wafer giga-fabs, four 8-inch wafer fabs, and one 6-inch wafer fab ‒ all in Taiwan ‒ as well as one 12-inch wafer fab in Nanjing, China, and two 8-inch wafer fabs in the U.S. and Shanghai, China.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Frances Huang)

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