Article TSMC to Build Advanced Semiconductor Facility in Arizona

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moinmoin

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Ajay

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Jan 8, 2001
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I don't see how Arizona is a good choice...
Existing talent and infrastructure for fab operations thanks to Intel's presence. Other than that, some kind of political shenanigans seems likely as some have mentioned.
There could be funds made available to support future military electronics needs - they are never on the bleeding edge.

I'd be surprised if local governments weren't willing to build a power plant to accommodate them - though obviously large water capacity is a trifle more problematic.
Definite on power needs. Arizona's solar prospects are enormous and represents a great opportunity. Base load power will need to be address first; I don't know were Arizona stands now.
The water supply has to be there, or this fab wouldn't even be considered.

This isn't a huge fab by TSMC standard - 12B US and a peak of 20K wafer/month. If it is 5N EUV in 2023/24, then it's there mainly for FPGA and ASIC designs - not leading edge stuff needed by Apple, AMD and Qualcomm. I'll personally feel much more confident about this deal when actual concrete is being poured.
 

jpiniero

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Oct 1, 2010
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There is no water available in AZ... And fabs are big water users and most of it has to be Ultra Pure Water. They also chew through power like there is no tomorrow.
As mentioned, Intel has extensive operations already there. Intel is clearly comfortable with the water situation in AZ. Maybe there's Solar tech that would be able to purify to the levels they need, and solar would be super cheap.
 

Ajay

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Don't all the TSMC N5 nodes use EUV? I think at this point it is probably safe to assume that all nodes from 5nm down use it.
Yeah, I just like adding that tag for now - I'll drop once most chips are on EUV processes.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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As mentioned, Intel has extensive operations already there. Intel is clearly comfortable with the water situation in AZ. Maybe there's Solar tech that would be able to purify to the levels they need, and solar would be super cheap.

Talking about this

 

Ajay

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jpiniero

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DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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TSMC has a whole PR site on that topic.
Interesting. Hydrofluoric acid and other crap are much harder to get rid of than air pollution, especially if your land mass is small. Air pollution can (and often does) drift elsewhere. The smaller you are, the more likely it is your smog will go choke someone else. But solid or liquid waste mostly stays put. It has much higher locality. It seems that TSMC is committed to minimizing the amount of "waste" (interesting to see what all they include in that category) goes to landfills. Or at least their PR page says so.

I kinda wonder if the water needed for farming is different enough than what's needed for a fab that the issue isn't as big of a problem or something that can be mitigated.
The fab has to purify their source water, and will relentlessly recycle it. If they dump water in AZ, it's gonna be hard to replace it thanks to rapid evaporation in that environment.
 

Genx87

Lifer
Apr 8, 2002
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The Colorado river ? and power from Hoover dam ? Both in Arizona ?
II am assuming this will be built in the Phoenix area. Which is 150 miles from the Colorado river. Now they have built tributaries that carries the water into the city. But the big issue they have is the Colorado has not been able to keep up with demand. Lake Mead is getting dangerously close to not providing enough pressure to run the Hoover Dam. And there is legit fear the colorado wont be able to supply enough fresh water for the city within a few years.

Further, I can only assume from my experience brown outs happen in the summer on a regular basis. My old company had their HQ in scottsdale. Brownouts happen around 1-2 times a month in the summer months.

Apparently Data Centers are also a big thing in Phoenix. The reason appears to be very little weather or geological related issues. Which again surprises me due to the heat\brown out situations I experienced. /shrug
 

Doug S

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Feb 8, 2020
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Official confirmation:
5nm, to be operational by 2024, $12bn investment.

And not only 5nm be four years out of date when opens, at only 20K wafers per month it is small compared to the fabs they have in Taiwan.

Seems like this is probably intended to give TSMC a place to make chips for the military and TLA orgs, they don't care about having access to the latest and greatest just something that's not totally obsolete. The former IBM fab (now owned by GF) in upstate New York they had been using for that purpose is going to be obsolete before long, and GF is no longer following the leading edge and may not even exist by the end of the decade so they needed a new plan.

Intel would make the most sense (other than their relative lack of experience as a foundry) but as a US owned company is likely their first choice for the most sensitive stuff. The government probably doesn't want to put all their eggs in one basket again like they did with IBM.
 

soresu

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Dec 19, 2014
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I kinda wonder if the water needed for farming is different enough than what's needed for a fab that the issue isn't as big of a problem or something that can be mitigated.
It is, certainly the water consumption of livestock far outstrips what goes into the meat going by the 10x less figure given for lab grown/cultured meat.

I'd say that agriculture and livestock are areas that are rife for resource optimisation - both land and utilities.
 

soresu

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Dec 19, 2014
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II am assuming this will be built in the Phoenix area. Which is 150 miles from the Colorado river. Now they have built tributaries that carries the water into the city. But the big issue they have is the Colorado has not been able to keep up with demand. Lake Mead is getting dangerously close to not providing enough pressure to run the Hoover Dam. And there is legit fear the colorado wont be able to supply enough fresh water for the city within a few years.

Further, I can only assume from my experience brown outs happen in the summer on a regular basis. My old company had their HQ in scottsdale. Brownouts happen around 1-2 times a month in the summer months.

Apparently Data Centers are also a big thing in Phoenix. The reason appears to be very little weather or geological related issues. Which again surprises me due to the heat\brown out situations I experienced. /shrug
I wonder when increasing number of sea coast desalination plants will begin to be considered as possible solutions to these problems - though that will introduce problems of its own eventually with altering pH of ocean water.
 

sdifox

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Sep 30, 2005
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I wonder when increasing number of sea coast desalination plants will begin to be considered as possible solutions to these problems - though that will introduce problems of its own eventually with altering pH of ocean water.
with the melting ice everywhere, it is not a concern. maybe the location of discharge will be an issue, but that can be mitigated through piping. But then desalination also uses a lot of power, maybe just go with solar desalination. Slow, but low impact.
 
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Doug S

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Apparently Data Centers are also a big thing in Phoenix. The reason appears to be very little weather or geological related issues. Which again surprises me due to the heat\brown out situations I experienced. /shrug

Well that part makes sense, because it is a lot easier to remove heat in a dry environment. The outside temperature makes pretty much zero difference to a data center's cooling bill, that is all due to moving the megawatts of heat from the inside to the outside as efficiently as possible.

I guess I hadn't really thought about it in this way, but fabs use a tremendous amount of energy as well and it all becomes waste heat they need to get rid of. So as far as cooling goes, a fab in the desert makes perfect sense. The relative scarcity of water needed for other fab processes remains a problem, though that's really a political problem the local government can override - just dictate that everyone else has to use a bit less water to make room for the fab's water usage.
 

MrTeal

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Dec 7, 2003
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More likely as I mentioned the govmt agreed to do away with the restrictions recently imposed upon export of ASML fab equipment to TSMC, which effectively banned TSMC from having Huawei as a fab customer, which is not a small financial loss for the company, especially in these uncertain times.

It's basically blackmail at the end of the day.

Either way, TSMC is a Taiwanese company, not an American company that moved to Taiwan.

Saying that building a fab in the US protects them from China invading is like saying Intel having a fab in Israel would protect them if the US was hit by an asteroid - somehow I don't think the employees first thoughts would be "yay we still have a working fab!".
The US government could put a great deal of pressure on TSMC indirectly, if it was part of moving Taiwan away from PRC and normalizing relations with ROC. That would be a drastic step, but given the recent musing of the administration it's hard to rule anything out.
 

maddie

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Jul 18, 2010
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I wonder when increasing number of sea coast desalination plants will begin to be considered as possible solutions to these problems - though that will introduce problems of its own eventually with altering pH of ocean water.
All things flow back to the sea. It's not like if the water piles up somewhere else, barring an ice age of course.

Reminds me of a self contained sailor who claimed that he refuses to use desalination onboard as it will alter ocean chemistry as it returns a stronger brine solution. Perspective matters.
 
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soresu

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All things flow back to the sea. It's not like if the water piles up somewhere else, barring an ice age of course.
Don't water treatment facilities from sewer systems feedback into the water supply?

If not I've had it wrong for quite a while.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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Well that part makes sense, because it is a lot easier to remove heat in a dry environment. The outside temperature makes pretty much zero difference to a data center's cooling bill, that is all due to moving the megawatts of heat from the inside to the outside as efficiently as possible.
Why are there so many datacenters in Iceland?
 

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