As industry sources have already noted, the implementation of the Japanese TSMC project is progressing much faster than the American one, and there are a number of reasons for this. Now the company is already starting to install devices in a joint venture under construction in Japan, and TSMC will be able to start producing chips in 28 nm technology next year.
This is clear from the pages Nikkei Asian Review Sources familiar with the situation. Installation of equipment at the TSMC joint venture in Kumamoto Prefecture could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2024 and operations will begin either at the end of the year or slightly earlier. The first step will be the start of production of 28nm and 22nm products, in which one of the major shareholders, Sony Corporation, is interested, which will produce image sensors for smartphone cameras and other electronic devices at this site. In the future, we would like to remind you that the production of 12 nm products will also be located here and the Japanese automotive component manufacturer Denso remains another interested strategic investor in this joint venture.
The construction site in Kumamoto already employs hundreds of TSMC employees with experience in construction, installation and commissioning. Hundreds of employees from contract organizations will soon be added, who will provide future production with everything necessary. According to those involved in the process, the advantage of the Japanese market lies in the abundance of suppliers of many of the necessary components. At the same time, TSMC pre-trains the local specialists hired in Japan so that they can later work in the company.
The situation is less favorable in the US state of Arizona, where TSMC is building a chip production facility with advanced N4 lithography technology. As industry sources explain, in this case, TSMC will have to rebuild the entire infrastructure from scratch, attracting Taiwanese suppliers who face numerous bureaucratic hurdles. The corporate cultures of Japan and Taiwan are much closer in this sense, so construction is progressing much faster than in the United States. According to representatives of one of the companies that were involved in the installation of equipment in all three regions, if in Taiwan it is possible to install several devices in just a few hours using lifting mechanisms and construction equipment, then in Japan it is can take several days, in the USA even more than a week.
For TSMC in Arizona, the problem is the lack of local partners to help build the necessary infrastructure; Sony, which is one of the shareholders in the joint venture, operates in Japan. In any case, these projects differ too much in their complexity and scope to be directly comparable. The same applies to TSMC’s plans to build a factory in Germany, as representatives of the Taiwanese company noted in an interview with a Japanese publication.
External experts note that the shortage of qualified personnel is generally characteristic of the entire global market for services in semiconductor component production, but in Japan it is exacerbated by demographic factors. The specialists involved in setting up the TSMC joint venture in this country have mostly exceeded the 50-year mark.
Japanese authorities are also more willing to adapt laws and provide subsidies more quickly than American authorities. At least of the estimated $8 billion that TSMC and partners will spend to build the Kumamoto plant, Japanese authorities are willing to cover $3.5 billion through subsidies. The US authorities have not yet started distributing subsidies under the so-called “chip law”, and they envisage various types of onerous conditions, such as a ban on expanding production capacities in China for a period of ten years the date of receipt of the subsidy. In a word, more favorable conditions have simply been created for TSMC in Japan to build a business, so progress in this area is natural.