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July 15, 2021updated 20 Jul 2021 2:57pm

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing eyes Japanese factory site

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is expanding production to other countries, reversing a previous policy of concentrating output in Taiwan.

By Graeme Roberts

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing on Thursday said it was eyeing its first microprocessor production site in Japan and would continue to build up overseas production to maintain long-term competitiveness.

CC Wei, CEO of TSMC, told Nikkei Asia the leading chip maker was conducting “due diligence” to determine the feasibility of a factory in Japan. Nikkei Asia has earlier reported TSMC was considering building a factory in the western prefecture of Kumamoto to address growing demand from Sony and other major customers.

“We are in the due diligence process now to have a specialty technology fab in Japan,” TSMC chairman Mark Liu added, referring to a chip fabrication plant. “It is still early to disclose the decision, because it will be based on our customer needs, operating efficiency evaluation and cost economics.” The potential fab in Japan was not included in TSMC’s three-year $100 billion capital expenditure plan, he added.

Liu also told Nikkei TSMC had not ruled out further expanding its production capacity in the US and was continuing to ramp up capacity in China amid a move by major economies to bring more chipmaking activities on shore.

“As the need for semiconductor infrastructure security has increased in recent years, we are expanding our global manufacturing footprint to sustain and enhance our competitive advantages, and to better serve our customers in the new geopolitical environment,” Liu told an investors’ call on Thursday, according to Nikkei Asia.

Liu also confirmed for the first time the US$12bn factory TSMC is building in Arizona will start mass production in the first quarter of 2024 and he added the first batch of engineers hired in the US to staff the facility arrived in Taiwan late in April for training.

“We will continue to compress our schedule [for the project] as much as we can,” Liu said.

TSMC also detailed its expansion plans for China, having previously said it would spend $2.8bn there.

TSMC plans to increase capacity at its Nanjing factory by 60% to 40,000 wafers per month by the middle of 2023, the chairman told Nikkei Asia, to meet the “urgent needs” of customers. However, the expanded production there will use the less-advanced 28-nanometer technology — a few generations behind the chip plant in the US, which will use industry-leading 5-nm technology.


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