TSMC identifies two challenges with German plan

Misha Lu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

TSMC has revealed the latest progress of its German fab plan at its shareholder meeting held today.

According to TSMC chairman Mark Liu, the pure-play foundry is still talking to the German government regarding subsidies.

Based on TSMC's evaluation in Germany, according to Liu, the feeling has been "good". However, Liu also identified the two main challenges faced by TSMC's German plan, namely the lack of a local industry cluster to supply TSMC, in addition to manpower shortage. The TSMC chairman noted that a "gap" seems to exist, though the German government has promised to fill it up."

Given the strong labor union in Europe, another challenge for TSMC is to get along with union members. According to Liu, TSMC's human resources team is already drafting a plan to address relevant issues.

In early May, it was revealed that NXP, Infineon and Bosch will join TSMC's venture to set up a fab in Germany. Talking to Reuters on May 23, Kevin Zhang, TSMC senior vice president of business development, noted that "if we do build a fab in Dresden, I think likely we will start the 28-nm generation based on MCU." In the same month during TSMC's European Technology Symposium, the foundry revealed that it was carrying out due dilligence on the decision to build a fab in Germany. As reported by eeNews Europe on May 24, Zhang indicated that TSMC's goal is to be close to its European customers.

However, Zhang also pointed out that half of TSMC business in Europe is microcontrollers, so if TSMC do build a fab in Dresden, it is "likely to be the 20nm generation with embedded PRAM."

There are still many variables to consider regarding the process node TSMC will eventaully lay down in Germany. As eeNews Europe pointed out, though MCUs are only just moving to 16nm, TSMC is already developing a 6nm process for MCUs. Meanwhile, the foundry is also moving aggressively into 3nm FinFET production of automotive AI chips with the launch of its process design kit (PDK) for 3nm Auto Early (N3AE). According to TSMC, fully automotive-qualified N3A process is expected in 2025.