TSMC this week held its Arizona fab 'first tool-in' ceremony, where alongside celebrating its first US fab, the company also announced major expansion plans for the production facility. The world's largest foundry is set to invest tens of billions of dollars in the next phase of its Fab 21 near Phoenix, Arizona, to significantly expand its capacity and start production of chips on its N3 process technologies there by 2026.

Construction of TSMC's Fab 21 phase 1 in Arizona was completed earlier this year, and this week the company began installation of production tools into the facility. The fab will be equipped with tools from companies like ASML, Applied Materials, KLA, Lam Research, and Tokyo Electroni in the next few quarters, and it is scheduled to come online in early 2024. The fab will be producing chips using various process technologies that belong to TSMC's N5 family, which now includes N5, N5P, N4, N4P, and N4X nodes. Production capacity of this phase of the fab will be around 30,000 wafer starts per month (WSPM), though the precise number will depend on actual technologies and designs.

Companies like AMD, Apple, and NVIDIA are set to run orders through Fab 21 phase 1 to produce their advanced chips in the U.S. for the first time in years. 

But that isn't all that TSMC has in store for Fab 21. The company has announced that they now intend to build a second fab on the site, further expanding their US production capacity and setting up an even newer production line.

The new Arizona fab will expand TSMC's capacity at the site to around 50,000 WSPM and will bring TSMC's total investments in the site to $40 billion. Notably, that's a $28B jump over the initial $12B investment TSMC made in their first Arizona fab, underscoring how costs continue to rise for newer fabs, but also that TSMC is becoming more comfortable with making larger infrastructure investments within the US. TSMC expects annual revenue from Arizona fabs to be in $10 billion per year ballpark, according to a Reuters report. Meanwhile, TSMC's clients using the fabs will generate about $40 billion in revenue selling products made by the foundry in the U.S.

Set to come online in 2026, the second Arizona fab will be starting life a generation ahead of its initial counterpart, producing chips on TSMC's N3 family of production nodes, which includes N3, N3E, N3P, N3S, and N3X. TSMC is expected to deliver its first N3 chips to a client in early 2023, so while the fab still represents cutting-edge technology as of the time of its inception, by the time it comes online it will technically be a trailing-edge fab. TSMC has previously indicated that they would be keeping leading-edge production within Taiwan – in large part because that's where their actual R&D takes place – so the company's updated Arizona fab plans are consistent with that stance.

With regards to capacity, the new Arizona fab, like its existing sibling, will be another "MegaFab" in TSMC parlance. That is to say a mid-range fab producing around 25,000 wafer starts per month. TSMC hasn't disclosed a specific output figure for just the new fab, but with Fab 21 slated to offer 20,000 WSPM, it looks like this fab will be a bit bigger, at closer to 30,000 WSPM. Still, with a combined capacity of 50,000 wafers per month, TSMC's Arizona facility is still among one of TSMC's smaller operations – 50,000 wafers is only half the production capacity a single one of TSMC's class-leading GigaFabs. So even with a second fab line, TSMC's US operations will only represent a relatively small fraction of the company's overall chip fab capacity.

Looking forward, TSMC has already begun construction of the second Arizona fab, and given the usual fab construction timelines, we can expect the shell to be complete by early 2024. After which it will take TSMC around another two years to equip it.

Meanwhile, TSMC is set to start producing chips using its N2 node in Taiwan in the second half of 2025. That node will use will be TSMC's first node to use their nanosheet-based gate-all-around field-effect transistors (GAAFETs), and over time will gain backside power delivery. Still, since not all products need a leading-edge node, TSMC won't have any trouble lining up customers for their N3 US domestic capacity.

"A strong, geographically diverse, and resilient supply chain is essential to the global semiconductor industry," said Lisa Su, chief executive and chairman of AMD. "TSMC's investment and expansion in Arizona is extremely important and mission critical for both the semiconductor industry and our extended ecosystem of partners and customers. AMD expects to be a significant user of the TSMC Arizona fabs and we look forward to building our highest performance chips in the United States."

Source: TSMC

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  • Shaunathan - Wednesday, December 7, 2022 - link

    i'm lovin' it Reply
  • RedGreenBlue - Wednesday, December 7, 2022 - link

    You have a second. Reply
  • webdoctors - Thursday, December 8, 2022 - link

    Wow, this should be amazing. Greatly reduce reliance on foreign supply chains for critical chips n tech. USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! Reply
  • deil - Thursday, December 8, 2022 - link

    I hope you are aware that its just a single step ? You still need crystals to be cat into wafers and many other pieces that needs to be imported to do so.
    china makes 20x more of them than usa, so chain still exists, but its china -> usa, not china -> taiwan -> usa, but hey its like 3% of USA silicon market can now be made locally.
    Reply
  • Threska - Thursday, December 8, 2022 - link

    The ingots get used for more than just ICs so any producer is going to serve more customers.

    https://youtu.be/Gej9UZZAnQ4
    Reply
  • RedGreenBlue - Tuesday, December 13, 2022 - link

    Taiwan is not part of China no matter how much China wants it to be. It won’t be unless Taiwan agrees to be. China’s chips are over a generation behind TSMC, Samsung, and Intel’s fabs. China is still using 14nm. Reply
  • PaulHoule - Friday, December 16, 2022 - link

    14nm might be more of a solution than a problem.

    Back in the day (1985-2005) you would shrink the transistors on a chip and get big improvements in performance and power consumption. Up until recently you would shrink the transistors on the chip and the transistors would get cheaper.

    My understanding is that some of the reason for the eye popping prices of the 4-series graphics cards is that with the new nodes the cost per transistor is not going down, it is going up. There is a lot of expectation that reliability and lifespan may start going down for smaller transistors too. I have 22nm Intel parts that are running strong after 10 years, I think 14nm will hold up well too but it may be a 4-series NVIDIA card has a much shorter life.

    Intel was more profitable than ever when it was "stuck" at 14nm, being hung up on manufacturing didn't really hurt their business at all. You might need smaller nodes to make $1800 smartphones thinner, but the rest of the industry might do fine with older nodes at some point.
    Reply
  • ceisserer - Sunday, January 8, 2023 - link

    > Intel was more profitable than ever when it was "stuck" at 14nm,

    You are profitable with older nodes in case you don't have strong competition, as it is the case in all businesses - in case you don't have to fear competition, investments actually reduce your profits. However what Intel is currently facing is a direct result of their low-investment preriod - they are no longer first. and when you have to play catch-up instead of leader, you don't get nearly as much out of your investment as you are used to do.

    regarding transistor cost - cost per transistor is going up, but smaller transistors are still faster and more efficient. thats why the most advanced chips are fabbed on the most advanced processes - only for commodity stuff (and IO/sram) older nodes are fine.
    Reply
  • JKflipflop98 - Tuesday, January 10, 2023 - link

    Oh please. Making wafers is easy and there's many companies in the USA that make them. There's two suppliers in Oregon alone where we buy our wafers. If push came to shove the big IC makers have the resources to create their own wafer factories on site.

    Reminds me of people going "Chicken Little" over the Neon supply. "Oh my god! Ukraine isn't producing Neon! the entire chip industry will grind to a halt!!". Really? Like you're really that dumb? All you need is a cold metal tube.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, December 8, 2022 - link

    As already implied, this is only a portion of the supply chain that must be developed if the US folk are interested in protected, domestic chip production. What might be more intelligent though, is to relearn how to do things with fewer integrated circuits and develop efficient means of achieving end state goals absent of a large number of ICs. In general, civilizations as-is are too dependent of them anyway to accomplish critical, survival-level activities which is absolutely asking for disaster to sweep down upon it in a variety of different fashions. Reply

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