The decision made in December last year to start construction of a second contract manufacturing facility in the USA was not easy for TSMC. Requests for subsidies were directed to American partners whenever possible, while the company’s medium-term capital expenditures had to be reduced. Today TSMC confessedthat the first of two plants in Arizona will not start operating until 2025 and not in 2024 as originally planned.
Recall that the much-publicized US media project to build two TSMC plants in Arizona involved spending $40 billion to start up two plants to process 20,000 300mm silicon wafers per month. The first should start work in 2024 and offer customers 5nm chips and the N4 process technology, the second should start producing 3nm devices by 2026.
Formally, the Arizona facilities cannot be considered “firsts in the United States” for TSMC, since the company founded a subsidiary called WaferTech back in 1996, which manufactured chips on a contract basis in Washington State. However, two new companies in Arizona are set to start producing chips with much more advanced technical processes and can therefore actually be considered the first in a new chapter in the history of TSMC’s presence in the United States.
Company officials said at the quarterly reporting event that year-to-date capital expenditures are closer to $32 billion, although the range had previously been capped at $36 billion. With TSMC already spending $18.1 billion on related needs in the first half of the year, capital expenditures are expected to be limited to approximately $14 billion for the remaining six months of the year. How this decision will affect the speed of construction of the Arizona plant is not clear, but TSMC management promised to send skilled workers from Taiwan to the site to speed up the process.
In any case, in 2024 the company will no longer be able to establish serial production of chips with N4 technology in the first of two companies in Arizona. Series production of chips is scheduled to start in 2025. Whether this will somehow affect the plans of Apple, NVIDIA and AMD, which are rumored to be the reason for the desire to entrust the release of their chips in the US to TSMC, is difficult to say. The same 5nm process technology is now available to customers at the company’s Taiwanese facilities, and revenue from its use rose 30% in the second quarter.