[News] Global Wafer Plants: Are Two More on the Horizon?

2023-08-08 Semiconductors editor

Leading semiconductor companies are making significant strides in global expansion with the announcement of two new fabrication facilities. TSMC is set to greenlight a factory in Germany, while GlobalFoundries plans to establish its first 12-inch wafer plant in Singapore.

TSMC’s Bold Move: Germany’s Green Light

TSMC from its presence in the USA, China (Shanghai and Nanjing), to Japan (Kumamoto City), TSMC’s global manufacturing footprint is expanding. Reuters reported on August 7 that TSMC’s board is inclined to approve the construction of a plant in Dresden, Germany. The German government pledges a substantial 5 billion euros (about $5.49 billion USD) to support the facility. However, the German Ministry of Economy refrains from commenting on the matter.

TSMC has been negotiating with the Saxony German state since 2021 to establish a collaborative FAB plant. In partnership with Bosch, Infineon, and Onsemi, TSMC aims to utilize the Dresden plant primarily for automotive chip production. Pending board approval, this venture could involve financing discussions with Berlin, ultimately requiring European Commission endorsement. TSMC, Intel, and Wolfspeed stand out among chip manufacturers seeking government assistance for European manufacturing ventures.

GlobalFoundries Poised to Build 12-Inch Wafer Plant in Singapore

According to, GlobalFoundries is set to make a substantial investment in the establishment of a 12-inch wafer fabrication plant in Singapore. The project’s funding could exceed NT$100 billion (approximately $3.2 billion USD). Reports suggest that this Singaporean facility will focus on producing 28-nanometer chips, with a potential completion date as early as 2026.

Industry experts note that GlobalFoundries’ move to set up a 12-inch facility in Singapore implies a significant shift in the competitive landscape. TSMC, UMC, PSMC, and GlobalFoundries – the four major semiconductor foundries – will all possess 12-inch production capabilities. Additionally, each of these companies has international expansion plans for such facilities. Notably, TSMC’s ventures span across the USA and Japan, UMC, and GlobalFoundries are both targeting Singapore, while PSMC’s strategy involves establishing a plant in Japan in collaboration with local partners.

Major Manufacturers Expand Against the Current Downturn

TSMC has been proactive in its expansion strategy, unveiling plans for ten new facilities in the past two years. These include 5 wafer plants and 2 advanced packaging facilities in Taiwan, alongside 3 overseas wafer plants. Despite the industry’s current challenges, TSMC’s expansion momentum remains strong, driven by a heightened focus on global manufacturing diversity.

TSMC is well aware of the potential risks tied to significant expansion efforts. In its latest annual report, the company acknowledges that expanding on a global scale demands substantial resources, highlighting possible challenges like rising costs, workforce shortages, disasters, land scarcity, cyber threats, government support, cultural differences, intellectual property protection, and tax variations.

Expanding during a semiconductor downturn has become a strategic approach for the foundry players. Typically, a fab construction takes 2 to 4 years, with equipment installation lasting 0.5 to 1 year and production ramp-up stretching 1 to 2 years. Looking ahead, semiconductor foundries are gearing up for a fresh wave of capacity release throughout 2024 and 2025.

Despite the industry’s ongoing slump, encouraging signs suggest that the downturn might be reaching its conclusion. Industry experts are cautiously optimistic, anticipating the arrival of the next upswing in the cycle.