TSMC believes it has access to enough water for its U.S. fabs in dry Phoenix
TSMC will need enough Ultrapure Water for its Phoenix-based fabs
TSMC revealed its plans following a report in Barron’s that suggested the company might have to compete for water in the state from nearby Native American tribes and agricultural users. Besides TSMC, Intel also will be building advanced chips in Arizona and it will require plenty of water as well.
The breakdown of water usage inside a fab. Credit image Semiconductor-Digest
The kind of water used in the process of manufacturing chips is not your everyday water straight from the tap. Since water free of dirt, particles, and sediment is needed to rinse and clean the silicon wafers, only Ultrapure Water (UPW) can be used. UPW is thousands of times purer than regular drinking water. You need approximately 1,400-1,600 gallons of municipal water to make 1,000 gallons of UPW.
TSMC has been in talks with Phoenix officials about access to water since day one
TSMC has said that as far as it knows, Phoenix authorities have been eager to invest in infrastructure that will help the city build a sustainable supply of water. Since the plans to build the first Arizona fab were first announced, the company says that it has been in touch with Phoenix officials to make sure that access to water won’t be a problem. Still, the average rainfall in Phoenix is only 39 inches compared to 102 inches in Taiwan.
Besides the plants being built in Arizona, TSMC is building a fab in Kumamoto, Japan. Unlike the fabs being built in the states, these will make chips using older process nodes such as 12nm, 16nm, 22nm, and 28nm. The company opened an overseas office on April 1st charged with overseeing and supervising the plants being constructed in the U.S. and Japan.
Apple, which is TSMC’s largest customer accounting for about 25% of the company’s revenue, will be purchasing chips made by the foundry’s U.S. fabs. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced this back in December. The executive said at the time, “And now, thanks to the hard work of so many people, these chips can be proudly stamped Made in America. This is an incredibly significant moment.”
It seems that TSMC feels comfortable right now with the access to water that its new fabs in Phoenix will have thanks to advanced planning with city officials.