TSMC’s US factory will not lead to technology transfer, Taiwan’s opposition minister said

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Yesterday, Taiwan lawmakers discussed Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)’s newest manufacturing facility in the United States. TSMC is building a new facility in Arizona and celebrated the arrival of the first machines at the facility with much pomp and display earlier this month. The ceremony was attended by a high-profile guest list, starting with President Joe Biden and extending all the way to including Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and the heads of Apple, Inc., Advanced Micro Devices, Inc (AMD) and NVIDIA Corporation. The Arizona facility plans to start manufacturing chips in the 4nm process, and to expand this to 3nm as well.

Yesterday, Taiwanese officials discussed whether the facility would hurt the region’s competitiveness in the global chip supply chain and whether there was any reason to worry about technology transfer. Kong Ming Hsien

Taiwan’s political planning chief assures lawmakers that TSMC’s US facility will not harm the region’s national interests

The controversy over the facility began when Lin Te Fu, an opposition KMT lawmaker from New Taipei’s 9th District, asked Kong Ming-hsien, head of Taiwan’s Ministry of Planning, about the implications of TSMC opening a manufacturing plant in the United States. Negative impact on the domestic chip industry in Taiwan.

In response, Dr. Kong, who has a Ph.D. On economics, he replied that in his opinion there would be no impact because TSMC’s more advanced chip manufacturing technologies, research factories, and money-making would continue in Taiwan. TSMC is currently building 3nm chips in Taiwan, which is one of the most advanced chip manufacturing operations in the world right now. The company will produce these chips in the American factory in 2026, according to its official announcement; A decision that ensures the continued survival of its leading technologies in Taiwan.

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This is due to the fact that a year earlier, TSMC aims to start manufacturing the most advanced 2nm chips in Taiwan. These chips will likely use new chip making machinery as well as a different transistor design when compared to 3nm products.

Top TSMC executives stand next to President Joe Biden as part of a ceremony earlier this month.

Mr. Te-fu then raised questions about whether TSMC’s advanced technologies would still be protected despite the US chip plant. Dr. Kong’s response to this was straightforward, assuring that not only TSMC’s latest technology remains protected, but that the investment in the 1nm manufacturing project will also be located in Taiwan.

Since this particular technology is so far from TSMC’s technology roadmap, the company has shared some details about it, but the minister’s comments indicate that discussions about it are ongoing with the Taiwanese government. Intel’s latest upgrade to its operations roadmap doesn’t share any details on 1nm either, with the company now expecting to start manufacturing 2nm (18A) chips in the first half of 2024 and then move to 1.8nm in the second half.

The debate took place in Taiwan’s legislative yuan, and Mr. Te Fu also asked if there were any concerns about qualified talent from TSMC making its way to the US — similar to some cases in which engineers and others from the island’s chip industry have gone to China. In response, Dr. Kong explained that semiconductor manufacturing is not an isolated process, but instead is part of a diverse ecosystem in which Taiwan has already cooperated with the United States in several areas.

While military products like those of TSMC and Samsung are outside of America, it is nonetheless the home of nearly every major technology and background testing company. These companies are involved in all stages of the chip manufacturing supply chain, providing the tools to design, validate, and test chips.

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