TSMC Warns Of Gas Contamination At Key Chip Factory

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Key plant of TSMC that is supplying Apple with its processors, is hit with a contamination of gases used in the chipmaking process

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) has said on Friday one of its key production fabs in Taiwan has been hit by a contamination of gases used in the chipmaking process.

The world’s largest contract chip maker added in an emailed statement to Reuters that it does not expect the incident to have significant impact on operations.

TSMC it should be noted has had to contend with a number of challenges in the past year, as the world struggles to contend with a global chip shortage.

One of its biggest issues it faced is a drought in Taiwan – the worst water shortage in the country since 1964.

water pouring

Gas contamination

Most of TSMC’s manufacturing capabilities are based in Taiwan, and the firm uses 156,000 tons of water a day in its chip making processes.

Now according to Asia Nikkei, which first reported the latest problem, the gas contamination hit TSMC’s most advanced chipmaking facility, namely Fab 18, in southern Taiwan.

What makes this a noteworthy issue is that Fab 18 produces all the latest processors for Apple’s iPhones and Mac computers.

“To ensure that there will be no issues with production quality, TSMC is currently carrying out stringent follow-up operations,” TSMC reportedly said.

Expanding operations

Amid the global chip shortage, TSMC is shifting away from its decades long approach of concentrating the majority of its chip production in Taiwan.

Earlier this year TSMC said it would invest $100 billion into manufacturing advanced chips over the next three years, to keep up with rising demand.

The company began construction in June of its $12 billion chip facility in Arizona, and is considering constructing its first-ever wafer plant in Japan.

Earlier this week, TSMC said reports of it eyeing the construction of a chip wafer plant in Germany is “too early to say”.

That came Chairman Mark Liu had said TSMC was engaged in talks with “multiple clients” about the feasibility of building a chip wafer plant in the country.

European officials will be hoping that TSMC does in the end opt for a plant in Germany.

This is because the European Union announced in March this year that it wanted to produce at least 20 percent of the world’s cutting-edge semiconductors by the end of the decade.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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