You didn’t have to wait long for confirmation of Apple’s domestic chip plans. Company chief Tim Cook has revealed that Apple will buy chips made at TSMC’s upcoming factory in Phoenix, Arizona. While Cook didn’t say just how those chips will be used, the 4- and 3-nanometer parts are expected to find their way into next-generation iPhones, Macs and other key products. Apple is currently TSMC’s largest customer.
The Phoenix facility is expected to start production in 2024. A follow-up plant is expected in 2026 due to increased demand. Combined, they’ll make about 600,000 chip wafers per year. TSMC is spending $40 billion on the factories, but they’ll be partly subsidized by the government through the CHIPS and Science Act meant to incentivize US semiconductor manufacturing.
Intel is also building factories in Arizona and Ohio. It’s planning to serve as a foundry for other companies looking to outsource chip production, and has expressed interest in making Apple’s components. Whether or not that happens may depend on Intel’s ability to keep up with foundries like TSMC, which frequently leads the push towards next-generation chip manufacturing processes.
The output will represent just a tiny portion of TSMC’s total capabilities. CNBC notes the Taiwan firm made 12 million wafers in 2020 alone. The National Economic Council estimates that should be enough to fulfill US demand, though. That could alleviate chip shortages, create jobs and reduce American dependence on foreign production.
While the plants won’t come online for two years, news of the expansion comes at an appropriate time. Apple has warned of iPhone 14 Pro manufacturing setbacks due to China’s COVID-19 policies. In theory, American facilities would have reduced the impact of those restrictions. Although many parts could still be made overseas even after TSMC’s expansion, there could soon be a greater chance of Apple devices reaching your door in a timely fashion.