TSMC’s Arizona facility in the US will begin its production operations in early 2024, and this will be the chip makers’ first advanced fab in years located outside of Taiwan. According to recent reports, even if the new fab will be operating in the USA, it will be at least partially built in Taiwan to save some money on setting it up.
For the shipment of the fab from Taiwan to the U.S., TSMC will use as many as 4,000 to 5,000 containers and spend around $110 million on transportation. Han Tang, which is a cleanroom engineering firm from Taiwan, Evergreen Marine Corp., and Wan Hai shipping companies will be involved in the project. TSMC has not made it clear as to what it plans to do with the facility it will build in Taiwan before shipping it to the USA, and the company hasn’t commented on the matter.
As we know, the modern fabs use hundreds of different tools made all around the world and then installed and set up locally. ASML, makes lithography scanners and installs EUV tools itself, and so it seems that TSMC won’t be shipping these scanners to Taiwan, instead, they will most probably hive them assembled and set up, and then ship to the U.S.
for the manufacturing process, TSMC uses its custom-built tools which are made in Taiwan. Many believe that it will be much easier for TSMC to set them up in Taiwan and then ship to the USA instead of setting them up locally since developers of such equipment are in Taiwan.
It won’t be easy for TSMC to build a 5nm-capable fab in the U.S. and maintain the same fab configuration and yields as it does in its Taiwan-based fabs. Since this will be the company’s first-ever advanced fab in a year away from Taiwan, TSMC wants to at least partly build the fab equipment in Taiwan and then ship it to the U.S. via cargo ships.