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TSMC starts construction of 5nm chip plant in Arizona

Apple partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. on Tuesday said construction of a new $12 billion chip plant has begun in Phoenix, Ariz., with the facility expected to produce wafers built on the company’s 5-nanometer process.

TSMC CEO C.C. Wei announced the development during the company’s annual symposium, which was held online for the second year in a row due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reports Reuters.

Plans to build out the $12 billion chip foundry were confirmed last year, and TSMC in March arranged bond sale to partially fund the operation.

Wei on Tuesday said the project is moving forward on schedule and the fab should begin churning out 5nm wafers in 2024. A portion of that output volume could be dedicated to silicon based on new TSMC technology that is certified by automakers for use in areas like artificial intelligence.

Reports in May suggested TSMC is internally discussing the addition of five more fabs in Arizona, though it is unclear what customers those facilities will serve.

Looking ahead, TSMC is on track to start volume production of 3nm chips at its “Fab 18” plant in Tainan, Taiwan, in the second half of 2022, Reuters reports. Word of the company’s 3nm plans first surfaced in June 2020, with later reports claiming Apple gobbled up output capacity for A- and M-series chips bound for iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Compared to current 5nm chips, the move to 3nm will increase performance between 10% and 15% while at the same time boosting energy savings from between 20% to 25%, TSMC said last year.

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