Against the backdrop of geopolitical influences, the concentration of advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes in Taiwan has raised concerns among international companies. According to TrendForce data, as of the end of 2024, over 70% of global advanced process manufacturing capacity is still located in Taiwan.
Governments worldwide have responded by offering generous subsidy policies to attract semiconductor foundries to establish plants locally. The dynamics of Taiwan’s semiconductor fabs in the global setting and changes in the global production landscape have become a focal point of industry attention.
Per TrendForce’s data, when considering the equivalent 12-inch wafer production capacity, in 2023, Taiwan held a global share of approximately 47%, followed by China at 26%, South Korea at 12%, the United States at 6%, Singapore at 4%, Japan at 2%, Germany at 1%, and others at 2%. By 2027, the distribution is expected to shift, with Taiwan’s share decreasing to 42%, China increasing to 28%, South Korea at 10%, the United States at 7%, Singapore at 6%, Japan at 3%, Germany at 2%, and others at 1%.
Examining recent developments in the overseas expansion of Taiwan’s semiconductor foundries, Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (PSMC) has officially announced the establishment of its first 12-inch fab, JSMC, in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. According to TrendForce’s research, the plant is planned to have a total capacity of around 40Kwspm, starting with a 40nm node and gradually transitioning to 28nm, primarily serving domestic clients in Japan while seeking subsidies and tax incentives for semiconductor.
JSMC’s construction is scheduled to commence in 2024, with full-scale production expected by 2027. With the establishment of PSMC’s overseas fab, TrendForce estimates that PSMC’s overseas production capacity will grow from 0% in 2023 to 9% in 2027.
The progress of TSMC’s second fab in Kumamoto, Japan, has garnered significant industry attention recently. On another note, The German cartel office has approved Bosch, NXP, and Infineon’s investment in TSMC’s German fab, ESMC. Each company will acquire a 10% stake, while TSMC will retain substantial control with over 50% ownership.
According to TrendForce’s research, ESMC’s total planned capacity is around 40Kwspm, focusing on 28/22nm and 16/12nm processes, with construction expected to start in the second half of 2024 and mass production in 2027. TrendForce predicts that TSMC’s overseas production capacity will increase from 9% in 2023 to 15% in 2027.
As for UMC, TrendForce’s research indicates that the overseas production capacity is projected to increase from 42% in 2023 to approximately 47% by 2027. Additionally, UMC’s Fab12i in Singapore has a production capacity of approximately 60Kwspm, with plans for manufacturing processes ranging from 55/40nm to 28/22nm. Moreover, UMC’s Fab12M in Japan is expanding its capacity by around 10Kwspm in collaboration with Denso.
Regarding Vanguard International Semiconductor (VIS), it was previously reported by Nikkei that VIS plans to construct its first 12-inch wafer fab in Singapore, primarily focusing on the demand for automotive chips. However, VIS has not yet officially announced any related developments. According to TrendForce’s research, if VIS does not have new plans for investment in a 12-inch fab, its estimated spending required for the operation of various fabs in 2024 is approximately $94 million, representing a nearly 70% decrease compared to previous years.
The formal Japanese government approval marks a substantial financial boost of up to 900 billion yen to aid TSMC in establishing its 2nd fab in Kumamoto. The primary aim is to strengthen Japan’s semiconductor manufacturing capabilities and enhance the overall resilience of the global supply chain.
With subsidy matters settled, TSMC’s formal announcement of the Kumamoto 2nd Fab project is anticipating in the near future, reported by TechNews.
Akira Amari, a Japanese lawmaker and leader of the parliamentary association to promote semiconductor strategy, reveals that Japan is gearing up to allocate a subsidy of up to 900 billion yen for the second-phase expansion of TSMC’s Kumamoto fab. The plan involves transitioning from the 22/28 nm and 12/16 nm processes to the more advanced 7 nm process. Once completed, Japan is anticipated to emerge as the leading semiconductor supply hub globally.
Media reports suggest that the cabinet amendment is expected to allot a total of 1.9 trillion yen for semiconductor subsidies in Japan. Japanese companies are slated to receive 590 billion yen, while TSMC’s second-phase expansion project in Kumamoto is in line for the highest subsidy of 900 billion yen, surpassing the market’s earlier projection of 760 billion yen.
Highlighting the unprecedented nature of this subsidy, Amari underscores the imperative of ensuring companies’ operational profitability. Japan envisions becoming a pivotal player in the semiconductor supply chain. Furthermore, contingent on the development scenario, the government is committed to evaluating subsidy reductions, with a pledge to support various schemes for establishing Japan as a long-term semiconductor hub.
As of now, the construction of TSMC’s first-phase fab in Kumamoto is advancing rapidly, with the total workforce anticipated to surpass a thousand. The team is preparing for a timely production launch in 2024.
Although the Kumamoto fab’s announcement and construction preceded that of the U.S. Arizona fab, set to commence production in 2025, TSMC’s Kumamoto fab is garnering robust support from official Japanese channels and partners including SONY Semiconductor Solutions and Denso. The fab is set to utilize 22/28 nm and 12/16 nm processes, with a total capital expenditure of 8.6 billion USD. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI) granted approval for a subsidy of 476 billion yen in June 2022, which represents approximately 40% of total capital expenditure is supported by the subsidy.
TSMC is in the process of constructing a semiconductor factory in Kikuyo-cho, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan (referred to as Plant 1). Production is expected to commence in December 2024. Besides this facility, TSMC has shown interest in establishing a second plant in Japan (referred to as Plant 2). According to Japanese reports, the government is considering providing TSMC with a substantial subsidy of up to 900 billion Japanese Yen for Plant 2.
On October 4, during the Public-Private Partnership Forum on Increasing Domestic Investment led by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, plans were announced for economic measures to be finalized within October. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan (METI) will request a budget of 3.4 trillion Japanese Yen to establish three funds supporting semiconductor production and research and development. These funds are the ” Research and Development Project of the Enhanced Infrastructures for Post-5G Information and Communication Systems,” the “Specified Semiconductor Funding Program,” and the “Ensuring Stable Supply Support Fund.”
As reported by Asahi Shimbun, sources suggest that the METI deems it necessary to grant 900 billion Japanese Yen in subsidies for TSMC’s proposed Plant 2, nearly 600 billion Japanese Yen for the “Rapidus” national team aiming to produce next-gen semiconductor chips domestically, and 700 billion Japanese Yen for traditional chips like Sony CMOS image sensors.
The Japanese government will allocate the required funds for these economic measures in the 2023 fiscal year supplementary budget. If the METI’s budget request is approved, the budget for semiconductor-elated activities in the 2023 fiscal year supplementary budget (3.4 trillion Japanese Yen) will be 2.6 times higher than that in the 2022 fiscal year supplementary budget (1.3 trillion Japanese Yen).
The Kishida administration also announced plans to ease land restrictions for crucial manufacturing facilities such as semiconductor plants during the forum. As early as December, local governments will be able to issue development permits for agricultural land, forests, and other areas.
Before that, local governments could only grant permits for industries related to food logistics, data centers, and plant facilities. Now, this is being expanded to include vital strategic materials. Furthermore, changing the land category from agricultural land often required approvals from multiple government departments, a process that could take more than a year. In the future, these procedures are expected to be shortened to around four months.