June 1 (Reuters) - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd
(TSMC) has started construction at a site in Arizona
where it plans to spend $12 billion to build a computer chip
factory, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the company's annual technology presentation to
clients and investors, held online for the second straight year
because of the pandemic, CEO C.C. Wei said the planned factory
remains on track to start volume production of chips using the
company's 5-nanometer production technology starting in 2024.
TSMC is expected to be one of several companies, including
Intel Corp and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd,
competing for some of the $54 billion in subsides for the chip
industry that advanced in the United States Senate last week.
Reuters previously reported that TSMC plans to build as many
as six factories at the Arizona site over a 10- to 15-year span.
TSMC, the world's biggest manufacturer of semiconductors on
contract, has taken centre-stage in the global supply chain
equation amid a worldwide shortage of chips that is hurting
industries from automobiles to consumer electronics.
Its shares have soared since the COVID-19 pandemic began,
making it Asia's most valuable manufacturing company with a
market capitalisation of $563 billion, more than twice that of
TSMC announced in April a $100 billion investment plan over
the next three years to increase capacity at its factories. Wei
reiterated that number, which will include $30 billion in
spending this year, at the presentation.
"That will give us enough manufacturing capacity to support
the growth of our clients," he said.
Wei also said the company has developed a version of its
5-nanometer chipmaking process certified for use by automakers
for advanced applications like artificial intelligence, though
the new offering is unlikely to alleviate the current chip
shortages because the shortages are of less advanced chips.
He said TSMC's next generation of 3-nanometer chipmaking
technology remains on track to start volume production at the
company's "Fab 18" factory in Tainan, Taiwan, in the second half
of next year.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Yimou Lee and
Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by David Holmes and Muralikumar
Editing by David Holmes)