TSMC considered moving fabs out of Taiwan

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TSMC, the Taiwanese contract chipmaker, is said to have held talks with some of its customers about the possibility of moving its chip plants off the island.

Credit: Koshiro - adoobe.stock.com

According to Reuters it triggered these discussions as a consequence of mounting tensions with China, but despite looking at the possibility decided it was just impossible to do.

While TSMC’ s Chairman C.C. Wei admitted that instability across the Taiwan Straits was a consideration for the supply chain it was practically impossible to move any of the company’s chip factories out of the island.

While Wei didn’t say who he’d had these conversations with it’s certainly interesting that such discussions took place, considering that upwards of 90 per cent of the company’s manufacturing capability is in Taiwan.

TSMC had been holding discussions with Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, who is said to have urged the chip manufacturer to form a partnership in order to build new factories to ensure enough silicon was available for the high-end chips needed to support booming AI sales.

Interestingly, Wei dismissed Altman’s call for 30, or so, new factories as ‘unrealistic’ and that it would be impossible to operate them at the 80% capacity deemed necessary.

"He is very aggressive, too aggressive for me to believe," Wei said, referring to Altman.

It is undeniable that there are tensions between China, the US and Taiwan and the fact that TSMC admitted to holding talks about moving production overseas simply underlines that. However, many in the semiconductor industry doubt that China will do anything rash and remain 'sanguine' at what they consider to be the remote possibility of invasion.

So it remains business as usual for TSMC.