iPhone chipmaker TSMC hits snag in bringing production to US this year

It’s been almost two years since Apple chipmaker TSMC announced its plans to construct a plant in Arizona. Now, a report indicates that the company is three to six months behind schedule.

According to Nikkei Asiathe world’s biggest contract chipmaker, which is responsible for Apple’s A- and M-series processors, is finding it more challenging to expand overseas than at home.

TSMC initially planned to start moving in chip production equipment by around September this year, but the company has told suppliers that this will be pushed back to around February or March of 2023, several people with knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia.

Nikkei Asia suggests that the company is having trouble building its plant. Labor shortage, COVID-19 infections in the US, and different types of licenses needed for construction are some of the factors making TSMC fall behind schedule.

The publication says that in Taiwan, for example, TSMC “is often able to reach the equipment move-in phase in around 15 months, and in some cases as little as 12 months.” As of now, it’s not clear whether Apple will make use of this TSMC plant.

While the company struggles to construct this new factory, semiconductor giant Intel plans a $ 20 billion expansion of its campus in Chandler, Arizona – just 31 miles from the Taiwanese plant.

Nikkei says Intel employs about 12,000 people there and is looking to hire a further 3,000 to staff its expanded facilities, which will also disturb TSMC’s plans when the time to hire new employees comes.

Not only that, but Intel just bought Tower Semiconductor for $ 5.4 billion so it can make more chips for other companies.

The Verge notes:

The deal is specifically intended to bolster the company’s fledgling Intel Foundry Service division, which Intel created last year to apply its chipmaking techniques and manufacturing facilities to build chips for other third-party companies. Once the deal closes, the goal is that Tower and IFS will be integrated together as a “fully integrated foundry business.”

(…) The Tower Semiconductor deal will allow Intel to further expand IFS’s offerings to new and more specialized products, which, in turn, will allow the eventually combined group to offer a more comprehensive chipmaking solution to companies down the line.

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