HSINCHU, TAIWAN — Chip giant TSMC said it is determined to “keep its roots in Taiwan”, as it launched a massive new research and development facility in the northern city of Hsinchu on Friday.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) controls more than half the world’s output of microchips, which are the lifeblood of the modern global economy, powering everything from coffee machines and smartphones to cars and missiles.
Much of its manufacturing base is in Hsinchu, where its state-of-the-art facilities are producing ever-smaller silicon wafers that have skyrocketed in demand, especially due to the recent boom in AI-related technology.
At the Friday launch of its R&D facility, chairman Mark Liu said the centre will “develop world-leading technologies in the semiconductor industry more actively to explore 2-nanometre and 1.4-nanometre technology”.
The company is racing to begin mass production of the 1.4-nanometre chip — smaller than a fraction of a fingernail — ahead of its rival Samsung, the world’s second-largest producer.
Its production lines have expanded beyond Taiwan as Western powers have raised concerns about the crucial industry being centred on an island that China claims as its territory — having ramped up political pressures against it in the past year.
But CEO CC Wei said Friday that TSMC intends to keep the heart of its technological prowess in Taiwan.
“We want to use this opportunity to show Taiwanese people TSMC’s determination to keep its roots in Taiwan,” Wei said.
“We have heard voices expressing concerns that whether TSMC is moving its focus abroad and whether TSMC is halting its development in Taiwan. We have to say ‘no’,” he said.
“With the opening of the global R&D centre, we are telling Taiwanese people our roots will remain in Taiwan.”
A planned Arizona plant — one of the largest foreign investments in the United States — is currently delayed until 2025 due to a shortage of skilled workers, a blow to the White House’s plans to bring more chip production to the US.
TSMC has attributed the delay to the lack of skilled workers and said they are sending over Taiwanese technicians to help train the foundry staff.
The company is facing similar issues as it explores the possibility of a plant in Dresden, citing concerns about the gaps in Germany’s talent pool.
TSMC’s global profile has ballooned in the past year, much of it coming after the US unveiled sweeping curbs aimed at cutting off Beijing’s access to high-end chips, chipmaking equipment and software used to design semiconductors.
Beijing has reacted with similar moves, restricting the sales of chips of American giant Micron and announcing that exports of rare minerals vital in the production of semiconductors required a license.
In the middle is self-ruled Taiwan — the world’s primary manufacturing base of semiconductors — which China considers its own territory and has vowed to retake one day, by force if necessary.