Earlier this week, chipmaker TSMC—Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, who manufactures processors for Apple, Qualcomm, and AMD, among many other industry giants—announced a serious increase in spending on both facilities and research.
The total investment is roughly $100 billion total, projected over the next three years at $30 billion plus each year. This represents a roughly 43% increase over 2020’s $17.2 billion capital expenditure and $3.72 billion spent on research and development.
The capital investment will in part go to several new facilities:
- A 5nm-capable fab in Arizona, scheduled to come online in 2024
- A 3nm-capable fab in Tainan, Taiwan, scheduled to come online in Q2 2022
- A 2nm-capable “GigaFab” in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and possibly another in Baoshan
- Two new advanced packaging facilities in Taiwan
The expansion is critical, since TSMC has been unable to meet the rising demand for chips despite its current fabs being at 100% utilization. It’s arguably critical to the global economy, as well—although TSMC is still unable to meet demand at full utilization, rival foundries GlobalFoundries and UMC have killed off development of their own leading-edge fabrication processes, effectively dropping out of that market.
Although UMC dropped research on leading edge processes, it is still in growth mode—yesterday, it announced expansion and increased investment in its foundries in Tainan, focused mainly on increasing its capacity to produce less-expensive 28nm chips. Although performance-critical applications such as smartphones and PCs have moved on from the 28nm process, it remains important in less-demanding embedded devices such as smart TVs and set-top boxes.