Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) Taiwan-based GlobalWafers Co. said Friday it had begun construction of a 12-inch silicon wafer plant in Texas, with the aim of beginning mass production in 2024.
In a statement, GlobalWafers, the world's third-largest supplier of silicon wafers, said a groundbreaking ceremony held in Sherman on Thursday was attended by federal and state government representatives as well as White House officials.
In June, GlobalWafers announced it would spend US$5 billion to build a silicon wafer plant in Sherman if the United States passed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act.
The act, signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden in August, authorizes the provision of US$52 billion in subsidies to ramp up semiconductor production in the United States, plus a commitment of US$100 billion over five years for research and development, part of which went to fund GlobalWafers' Texas project.
GlobalWafers said it expected the Texas plant -- the first silicon wafer factory to be built in the United States in more than 20 years -- to address the critical shortage in domestically supplied silicon chips in the U.S. market.
"This major expansion by GlobalWafers is being brought to fruition, as a result of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 funding, state/local incentives as well as the strong support from U.S. local customers," GlobalWafers said in the statement.
"Lack of domestic silicon wafer supply for the U.S. semiconductor industry has become alarming and highlighted with recent pandemic and geopolitical issues. Customers have been welcoming of this action by the company as evidenced by long-term supply contracts, which address the key target markets of automotive, mobile, PC, consumer and industrial," the Taiwan-based manufacturer said.
GlobalWafers said it would invest an initial NT$55 billion (US$1.830 billion) in Sherman, with the Texas factory part of a NT$100 billion expansion plan announced by the company earlier this year.
According to GlobalWafers, the company chose to invest US$5 billion in Sherman due to major clients having a foothold in the U.S. market, which meant that locally producing and supplying wafers would significantly reduce the company's carbon footprint.
GlobalWafers said it planned to start mass production at the Texas site in 2024, with the plant rolling out 1.2 million units in the maximum monthly capacity once construction, equipment installation and customer sampling were completed.
Currently, the silicon wafer supplier operates 16 sites in 10 countries, including Taiwan, China, the United States, Japan, Denmark, Poland, South Korea, Italy, Malaysia and Singapore.
GlobalWafers is one of several prominent Taiwanese semiconductor investors in the U.S. market under the CHIPS Act.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is building a US$12 billion advanced 5-nanometer process wafer fab in Arizona, with the world's largest contract chipmaker aiming to begin mass production at the site in 2024.
On Dec. 6, TSMC will hold a "first tool-in" ceremony, attended by Biden, to mark the installation of the first batch of production equipment.
TSMC is likely to produce chips made on the even more sophisticated 3nm process in the next phase of the Arizona project.