It’s been two years since Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company announced plans to build a massive factory in north Phoenix and, in a rare update, the company now says it is still on track to start production in 2024.
Development is progressing as planned, with structural construction of the factory buildings and all support structures nearing completion. Installation of the central chipmaking tools is now expected to start in early 2023, a key step in bringing the factory, or fab, online.
TSMC is continuing to hire for the forthcoming fab, which is expected to employ thousands in the future. There are currently 500 Arizona employees training in Taiwan, following the initial batch of 250 employees the company sent overseas in April 2021, TSMC shared exclusively with the Business Journal.
“We broke ground just over a year ago, and we are making great progress – from the structural construction of the fab to the utilities infrastructure and the surrounding roadways,” TSMC spokeswoman Nina Kao said in a statement. “This enormous construction project remains on schedule to start operations in 2024.”
TSMC spent $89 million to buy 1,128 acres of undeveloped land just north of the Loop 303 in Phoenix at the end of 2020. In its public communications, TSMC says the first factory will cost $12 billion to construct, but the company may build additional fabs at the site, bumping the project cost up to $35 billion.
Structural work completed
TSMC said it has completed structural work on the support buildings for the first major sector of Fab 21, including the office building. About half of the glass has also been installed in the office building.
Work continues on site infrastructure, including fire protection piping, ducting and electrical switches and transformers. Outside the fab itself, the company is developing the surrounding roadways, streetlights, underground piping and high voltage power lines with help from Arizona Public Service.
All recruiting for the Arizona fab is happening domestically, the company said, despite Taiwanese media reports to the contrary. The company has 100 people working now at offices in Phoenix and it expects to employ more than 2,000 on its Arizona team by 2023.
“Given the increased focus on semiconductors around the world, there is a ton of interest from potential recruits about coming to work for one of the world’s leaders in this industry,” Kao said. “We are very impressed and pleased with both the diversity and quality of the talent pool and the enthusiasm from our newest TSMC Arizona employees.”
Nearby manufacturers are facing stiff competition for manufacturing talent and TSMC has the additional challenge of competing with fellow chipmaker Intel, which is spending billions to expand its longstanding facilities in Chandler.
New suppliers named
TSMC is the most advanced chipmaking company in the world, and its decision to build in Arizona means its suppliers are tagging along, including some that have not been previously reported.
Taiwan Puritic Corporation has signed new leases in both Phoenix and Glendale; Kokusai Semiconductor Equipment Corporation has set up distribution, training centers and offices in Glendale; Rinchem is expanding to Surprise, and CTCI has set up a new office in Phoenix.
The Business Journal has previously reported on other suppliers setting up shop nearby, including Sunlit Chemicals and its $100M site in Phoenix,EMD Electronics’ new facility in Chandler and a new gas plant to support the site. Universal Instruments Corporation (UIC), an existing supplier with a footprint in Arizona, will also work with TSMC at the new fab.
“One of the reasons we chose Arizona was because of the existing semiconductor supplier base. But we knew that our plans to build TSMC Arizona would drive more investment from the leading vendors in the state – and we are seeing that already,” Kao said.
“Some are starting their first U.S. operations in Arizona, and others are expanding their local operations. While these moves are strengthening the state’s economy, it’s also a great thing for the entire industry as the U.S. has a focused effort to ramp leading-edge chip-manufacturing in the country.”
Housing developers are already buying up land in Peoria, Surprise and Phoenix to get ahead of housing needs for the growing workforce. North Phoenix, vast tracts of which are still undeveloped, is already changing even though construction is not yet complete.