Dr. Mark Liu, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), refused to comment on remarks made earlier this week by Intel Corporation CEO Mr. Patrick Gelsinger. In his words, the Intel CEO questioned Taiwan’s geopolitical stability and used it to call for a stronger push toward chip production in the United States. Dr. Liu reacted to press queries at a seminar in Taiwan yesterday, downplaying Mr. Gelsinger’s remarks.
Mr. Gelsinger spoke on the present status of the semiconductor sector and the dangers associated with it on Wednesday at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference in California. During the event, he stated that, while encouraging foreign companies to establish chip manufacturing facilities in the United States was a positive development, the United States government should have invested in American companies because it would ensure that valuable intellectual property for chip manufacturing remained in North America.
He also remarked that Taiwan’s geopolitical predicament rendered the area insecure. Mr. Gelsinger specifically referenced a recent intrusion by Chinese fighter planes into the island’s air defense buffer zone to show how the security situation in the area may make some people uneasy.
The Nikkei quoted him as saying:
“Taiwan is not a stable place,” said Gelsinger, adding that Beijing sent 27 warplanes to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone this week. “Does that make you feel more comfortable or less?”
When asked about Mr. Gelsinger’s comments, TSMC Chairman Dr. Mark Liu played down the entire situation. On Friday, he spoke at a seminar in Taiwan, saying that while geopolitical concerns might have a short-term impact, Taiwan’s potential contribution to the global chip manufacturing market is enormous.
Dr. Liu was reported by CNA English before the event as saying:
[T]here’s nothing that needs to be addressed. TSMC does not speak ill of other companies in the industry.
He went on to say that Mr. Gelsinger’s remarks don’t hold much weight since just a few individuals feel that geopolitical concerns in Taiwan would have an impact on TSMC’s chip production capability.
The TSMC CEO also provided details on the company’s chip factory in Arizona, which is now under development. He stated that the factory is on track to begin mass production in 2024 using TSMC’s cutting-edge 5-nanometer (nm) semiconductor technology. The fab intends to debut its 3nm process next year, with considerable advances above 5nm, and many have expressed concern that by the time the Arizona factory begins production, its manufacturing techniques would have been superseded by newer and better technology.
During his lecture this week, Mr. Gelsinger also referenced the Arizona facility, emphasizing that his firm must compete with competitors who are heavily backed by their governments. Mentioning TSMC and Korean chaebol Samsung Group’s chipmaking business Samsung Foundry, he noted that both received considerable subsidies from their governments, which accidentally led to Intel competing with governments rather than firms owing to the financial nature of the assistance.
TSMC’s U.S. factory will be the company’s largest in the country, and various speculations have hinted that the company’s scope may be expanded. While the company’s stated plans call for 20,000 wafers per month, speculations suggest that this might be increased fivefold to 100,000 wafers per month. It’s unclear whether this rumoured expansion will include the 3nm manufacturing technique.