Taiwan’s TSMC begins hiring $ 12 billion for the US plant

TAIPEI – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is aggressively recruiting more than 600 engineers and executives for what will be its first US plant in 20 years, Nikkei Asia has learned.

The world’s largest contract chip maker will initially bring together a combination of current and new employees to hire a $ 12 billion chip factory it will begin building next year in Arizona, TSMC President Mark Liu said for the Nikkei. The impetus for employment comes with US officials and lawmakers calling on semiconductor companies to bring more operations to the United States.

According to Liu, a working group of more than 300 current employees and managers with experience in developing and producing 5-nanometer chips will be sent to help the factory get started. The five-nanometer chips are the most advanced in the world and are used in the latest iPhone 12 and Mac processors. The United States has agreed to provide as many work visas as the TSMC needs for this purpose, sources familiar with the matter told Nikkei.

In addition, TSMC is recruiting 300 fresh graduates and young engineers with one to two years of experience who are already eligible to work in the United States, Liu said. The president added that TSMC intends to bring these newly hired engineers to the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, where the company’s current 5 nm chip factory is located, for an intensive training program about a year before leaving for Arizona.

“All communication and training under this program will be conducted in English to facilitate future coordination,” he said.

TSMC’s recruitment for the Arizona plant comes as the US intensifies efforts to revive the country’s leadership of semiconductor manufacturers. Intel, the largest U.S. chip maker by revenue, acknowledged in July that it was facing significant delays in advancing its chip-making technologies and that it was considering outsourcing production as a contingency plan. Meanwhile, US lawmakers are finalizing $ 25 billion in tax incentives to boost local chip production and counter China’s growth in technological development.

The US still owns the world’s chip-based revenue industry, despite the fact that South Korea and Taiwan now control a significant portion of their advanced chip production capacity. According to IC Insights, Asia has become the largest chip manufacturing region in the world, accounting for 75% of the world’s semiconductor production capacity. Taiwan alone accounted for 22% of global production, with the majority contributing to TSMC.

The United States also mentioned security concerns in its efforts to strengthen its domestic semiconductor industry. TSMC is a key chip supplier for Apple and most other chip and technology giants such as Intel, Qualcomm and Google, but also produces chips for American chip designer Xilinx, which are used in F-35 fighter jets.

Washington has stepped up pressure on the Taiwanese company to produce chips for military use in the United States to ensure that the manufacture of high-security components does not contain potential Chinese interference, Nikkei Asia reported for the first time in January. TSMC was also forced to give up the supply of key Huawei Technologies customers after the US earlier this year imposed stricter trade restrictions on the Chinese technology giant, citing national security risks.

TSMC is not the only Asian giant to heed Washington’s call. Samsung, TSMC’s main rival in the foundry industry, as its chip business is known to others, plans to expand its chip capacity in Texas to attract American customers such as Apple, Google, Qualcomm and Tesla. Samsung distributed orders for Apple iPhone processor chips with TSMC by 2016. Samsung is also the world’s largest manufacturer of memory chips, supplying most device manufacturers.

TSMC has announced plans to build a 5 nm chip plant in Arizona in May. In November, TSMC set up a wholly-owned subsidiary with a paid-up capital of $ 3.5 billion. This was followed late last month by officials in Phoenix, Arizona, who approved a development agreement with TSMC that will provide $ 205 million in city funds for infrastructure, such as road and water improvements. On December 22, Taiwanese regulators approved TSMC’s investment in the United States

TSMC said construction of the plant in Arizona will begin next year and production will begin in 2024. The plant will eventually create more than 1,600 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs for the semiconductor ecosystem, the company said. Many TSMC suppliers, such as Marketech International Corp., a semiconductor plant manufacturer, and Entegris’ leading chip supplier, have indicated all expansion plans in Arizona.

According to the TSMC website, it employs research and development engineers, process engineers, equipment engineers, IT software engineers and other positions required to operate an advanced chip factory.