TSMC to build 1nm fab in Longtan: Hsinchu Science Park Bureau

12/05/2022 07:42 PM
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Image taken from TSMC
Image taken from TSMC's website

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, will build a wafer fab using the super sophisticated 1 nanometer process in the Longtan section of Hsinchu Science Park, the head of the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau said on Monday.

The bureau completed a pilot project in mid-November for the third expansion phase of the Longtan section, which is located in Taoyuan, to accommodate the new TSMC plant, Wayne Wang (王永壯), director general of the bureau, said at a news conference.

The pilot expansion project has since been submitted to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), which supervises the country's three major science-based parks in Hsinchu, Taichung and Tainan, and the NSTC will next forward the project to the Cabinet for approval, Wang said.

"The efforts by the government to push for the construction of TSMC's 1nm process fab are currently proceeding smoothly," Wang added.

The location of TSMC's 1nm process fab was reported on at the end of October by local media outlets. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government then talked up the possibility, saying it would lend its full support to the construction of the plant, while the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) questioned its feasibility, suggesting the decision was a political tactic by the DPP ahead of the Nov. 26 local government elections.

In contrast, TSMC remained mum on the location of the 1nm process fab noting only that the company did not rule out any possibility and would continue to look for a site to develop advanced higher-end processes to roll out its chips.

The local news media has previously reported that the third expansion phase at the Longtan section will cover an area of 150 hectares, but with 90 percent of the land owned privately, a huge effort would be required to expropriate the land needed.

Wang was cited in those reports as saying the bureau would work closely with Taoyuan City Government despite the DPP's failure to win the city's mayoral race and is confident the land needed for the expansion can be expropriated.

At a legislative hearing in November, Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠), head of the NSTC, said after the Executive Yuan approved the pilot expansion plan for the Longtan section, a formal expansion plan would be available in August 2023 ahead of a series of follow-up efforts such as urban planning and environmental protection assessments.

Those manufacturers interested in building a plant in the Longtan section are expected to start construction two years after the expansion plan receives the green light, Wu said.

Faced with a question from KMT lawmaker Wan Mei-ling (萬美玲) at the hearing about whether TSMC is willing to build its advanced fab in Longtan, Wu said he believed the company was prepared to do so.

TSMC has been keen to develop high-end processes to maintain the company's lead in technology over its peers.

The company is spending US$12 billion to build a fab in the U.S. state of Arizona, with mass production to start in 2024, using the 5nm process, and is planning to introduce the 3nm process during phase II of the Arizona investment. The chipmaker is also developing the 2nm process and plans to build a fab using the technology in Hsinchu with commercial production scheduled for 2025.

Critics have said TSMC's Arizona investment will disadvantage Taiwan as the country cannot keep its high-end technology at home, but Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) have said the chipmaker's most sophisticated process will only be located in Taiwan.

TSMC is scheduled to hold a "first tool-in" ceremony for the Arizona fab Tuesday to mark the installation of the first batch of production equipment and U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to attend the event.

(By Chang Chien-chung, Cheng Hung-ta and Frances Huang)

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