TSMC plans more capacity -- some coming online as early as Q2 2021

Posted on Wednesday, Mar 03 2021 @ 09:19 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
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In a time when chip shortages hit not only hardware enthusiasts but also major industries, it's good to hear about capacity enhancements.

More 300mm output expected in Q2 2021

Today there's some good news from TSMC as the firm may already be able to squeeze in more orders next quarter. DigiTimes writes the Taiwanese foundry is prioritizing the expansion of its 300mm fabs over its 200mm plants. The result is that more clients will be able to get extra chip output in the second quarter of this year. The full article is behind a paywall, so we don't know whether the extra output is planned as early as April, or in June at the latest.

TSMC Arizona to become a giant factory site?

Next, there's a rumor that TSMC's planned factory in Arizona, US may get a lot bigger than initially planned. Originally, TSMC planned to invest around $12 billion in the Arizona plant between 2021 and 2029. Construction of the facility will start this year, with the first chip output expected in 2024.

Take it with a grain of salt, but reports coming in from Asia suggest Arizona could become the home to a giant Mega Site consisting of six factories. The article is based on anonymous TSMC employees. They were told that total investment in the Arizona campus will total close to $36 billion. When the plans are fully realized, monthly wafer capacity will reportedly hit a massive 100,000 wafers -- a huge step up versus the initial 20,000 wafer a month plan.

If this is true, TSMC will surpass Samsung and become the largest non-American semiconductor maker in the US.

TSMC Fab16

3nm risk production by late 2021

The development of TSMC's new process technology is on track. Reports are hitting the web that risk production of 3nm production will start towards the end of this year -- which is in alignment with the firm's roadmap. Volume production of 3nm chips is expected next year, with Apple being the single largest client. The Cupertino-based electronics maker has been closely cooperating with TSMC for years. Apple has a huge appetite for chips and wants to move to smaller process nodes as early as possible to enhance the capabilities of its iPhone, iPad, and Mac lineups.

According to ExtremeTech, the 3nm risk production will be in the order of around 30,000 wafers per month. Volume production is estimated at 105,000 per month but it's important to keep in mind that the actual output in chips between these two phases is much larger than the numbers imply. Risk production is used to iron out the kinks, yields during this phase are much lower than during volume production.

It will be interesting to see if TSMC can once again deliver on its promises. Last year, there were some rumors about issues with TSMC's 3nm process but it seems the Taiwanese giant is confident the node will hit the set out targets. If things go well, volume production in 2022 means 3nm chips in Apple's 2022 iPhone launch.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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