A Wall Street Journal report says Apple chip-making partner TSMC is exploring the possibility of building a new factory in Singapore, as part of an effort to address the worldwide chip shortage.
TSMC is Apple’s sole chipmaker and supplier and has fabricated all of the company’s customer Apple Silicon chips, including the current A15 Bionic and M1 chips.
TSMC prioritizes Apple’s chip orders over those of its other customers, which has limited the effect of the chip shortage on Apple. However, TSMC has still suffered from global supply chain issues as the world’s biggest contract chip maker.
TSMC’s plans to build a new multi-billion dollar factory in Singapore are said to be still under consideration. The WSJ’s sources tell it that the government of Singapore may help to fund construction of the plant.
The Singapore production lines would manufacture chips with seven- to 28-nanometer fabrication processes, which are older production technologies. Apple’s latest chips are manufactured using TSMC’s five-nanometer process. This means Apple’s latest chips would not be produced at the new plant, but would instead be used to free up production capacity at other factories allowing more Apple chips to be manufactured, helping to relieve global shortages.
Also in the works, TSMC Chairman Mark Liu announced in July 2021 that the company’s $12 billion factory in Phoenix, Arizona, which is currently under construction, will begin mass production in the first quarter of 2024.
The facility will mass-produce chips fabricated with a 5nm process. Likely clients for the chips made in the Arizona factory include Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Apple. The new Arizona plant will make it possible to manufacture Apple’s 5nm custom silicon chips – including the A14 or M1 chip – within the United States.
TSMC also operates a factory in Camas, Washington, and has design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California.