TSMC, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, announced on Tuesday it will increase
its investment in Arizona
billion in order to build a second, even more advanced plant there.
The announcement came ahead of an equipment installation ceremony at the first
facility on Tuesday, attended by U.S. President Joe Biden and numerous tech industry
The additional facility will begin operation by 2026 and will be the first plant in the
U.S. to make 3-nanometer chips, the most advanced currently available, a White
House official said. In line with the expansion, TSMC will increase its workforce in
Arizona to 4,500, from an initial plan of 1,600, the company said.
Nanometer size refers to the distance between transistors on a chip — the smaller the
number, generally speaking, the more powerful the chip. As the “brains” of electronic
devices, such chips are vital for everything from smartphones and autonomous
vehicles to supercomputers and AI technologies.
TSMC’s first plant, which is slated to begin production in 2024, will produce 4-nm
chips of the kind used for iPhone 14 Pro processors. Once that plant and the 3-nm
facility are operating at full capacity, TSMC’s total output in Arizona will be 60,000
wafers per month, triple its original plan of 20,000.
“When complete, TSMC Arizona will be the greenest semiconductor manufacturing
facility in the United States producing the most advanced semiconductor process
technology in the country, enabling next generation high-performance and low-
power computing products for years to come,” TSMC Chairman Mark Liu said in a
statement released Tuesday. “We are thankful for the continual collaboration that has
brought us here and are pleased to work with our partners in the United States to
serve as a base for semiconductor innovation.”
Apple and chipmakers AMD and Nvidia will be among the first customers buying
chips from TSMC’s Arizona plant, according to an announcement by the company
and the White House, confirming an earlier Nikkei Asia report. AMD told Nikkei Asia
that it “looks forward to having its most advanced chip products built in TSMC’s
Arizona fabs.” Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang said in a statement that “bringing TSMC’s
investment to the United States is a masterstroke and a game-changing development
for the industry.”
Biden’s decision to attend the equipment installation ceremony on Tuesday
underscores the importance of TSMC to Washington’s chip ambitions.
Speaking at the event, Biden said America had once had more than 30% of global chip
“Then something happened. American manufacturing, the backbone of our economy,
began to get hollowed out. Companies moved jobs overseas,” he said.
“Today we’re down to producing only around 10% of the world’s chips, despite
leading the world in research and design in new chip technologies. But … where is it
written that America can’t lead the world once again in manufacturing? I don’t know
where that’s written, and we’re proving it can.”
Biden was joined by a who’s who of the tech industry, including CEOs from
companies such as Apple, Nvidia and AMD as well as top chipmaking tool companies
Applied Materials and Lam Research plus other chip-related players such as Entegris,
Synopsys and Arm.
TSMC founder Morris Chang, Chairman Mark Liu and CEO C.C. Wei all attended.
Liu said in his remarks that the plant has the potential to generate $10 billion in
revenue a year and chips produced there could help build advanced electronics
products worth $40 billion a year.
The companies represented at the ceremony are worth at least $4 trillion, making the
event the most important gathering in the semiconductor industry in the post-
In the chip industry, a tool move-in event signals that the installation of essential
equipment has begun and is a significant milestone for a chipmaking facility to
TSMC’s announcement comes as Washington is pushing hard to onshore vital
production of semiconductors. In addition to their economic importance, chips are
also seen as vital to national security — a sentiment reflected in the latest round of
export controls Washington imposed on China in an attempt to curb its
Their importance was further brought home by a global chip shortage sparked by the
pandemic and supply chain disruptions, hitting a range of industries.
Rising political tensions between China and Taiwan, the self-ruled democratic island
where TSMC is based and which Beijing views as part of its territory, have further
accelerated Washington’s push to diversify chip production.
Most of the world’s cutting-edge chips are built in Asia by TSMC and Samsung
Electronics of South Korea.
The U.S. is hoping to change this by offering incentives for companies to build chip
capacity on American soil. In July, lawmakers passed the $52.7 billion CHIPS and
Science Act package to boost the domestic semiconductor industry.
In addition to TSMC’s expanded investment plans, Samsung is building a $17 billion
plant in Texas, while top U.S. chipmaker Intel is spending at least $40 billion to build
chip plants in Arizona and Ohio.
Only TSMC, Samsung and Intel are building or attempting to build chips as advanced
as 3-nm, and all aim to put even more advanced 2-nm chips into production by 2025.