TSMC founder says globalization is dead

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Dr. Maurice Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC), believes that globalization is dead. Dr. Chang made his remarks at the opening ceremony of TSMC’s new chipmaking facility in the US, which marks a crucial shift in the company’s efforts to diversify its manufacturing footprint. The ceremony was attended by high-ranking guests, including President Joe Biden. Mr. Xie Jinhe, Chairman of China’s Caixin Media Group, echoed the view of the founder of TSMC, who took a step forward and specified on a separate occasion that not only is globalization dead, but it has been dead for a while.

The TSMC boss says the American factory is a dream come true — but it will take hard work to succeed

Dr. Chang is known for his sharp observations and assessments of the global semiconductor industry – which he has led through the creation of what is now the world’s largest chip maker. Since announcing fab Arizona, he has constantly warned that running it in the US will be more complicated than it is in Taiwan, mainly due to higher costs and a different work culture.

Dr. Chang was also the first person directly associated with TSMC to announce that the US plant will manufacture advanced semiconductors in line with the company’s existing facilities in Taiwan. TSMC announced 5nm manufacturing for its Arizona facility initially, but now, the manufacturer has confirmed 3nm production for the factory as well.

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These now update production plans to N4 in 2024, a leap from 5nm. N4 is an advanced variant of the 5nm process family and delivers improved performance and power efficiency. Crucially, though, TSMC’s 3nm announcement was spot on, with the fab detailing that it will be making the advanced chips in 2026 by building a second manufacturing facility.

TSMC’s facility in Arizona was photographed earlier this year. Photo: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC)

Speaking at the event in Arizona, Dr. Chang shared that his first attempt to build a chip plant in the US in the mid-1990s saw him encounter many difficulties similar to those he warned about the Arizona plant. He added that globalization and free trade are dead and likely to remain so.

Mr. Xie Jinhe of Caixin Media also echoed the sentiments of the former TSMC chairman. In a Facebook post, Mr Jinhe shared that the growing differences between the US and China risked dividing the world into technological poles. He added that Dr. Zhang’s remarks that globalization is dead describes the situation very lightly, as he sees globalization as dead a long time ago.

TSMC’s announcement that it will manufacture 3nm chips in 2026 in the United States means that the company’s most advanced facilities will continue to remain in Taiwan. Not only has 3-nanometer production started this year, but TSMC also plans to produce the most advanced 2-nanometer process in 2025 at its Taiwanese factories. 2-nanometer production is very different from earlier technology, since it incorporates newer technologies and transistor designs – making it difficult to scale out 3-nanometer facilities to match their requirements.

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