Samsung Electronics Co is considering spending more than $10 billion building its most advanced logic chipmaking plant in the US, a major investment it hopes will win more American clients and help it catch up with industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
The world’s largest memory chip and smartphone maker is in discussions to locate a facility in Austin, Texas, capable of fabricating chips as advanced as 3 nanometeres in the future, people familiar with the matter said. Plans are preliminary and subject to change but for now the aim is to kick off construction this year, install major equipment from 2022, then begin operations as early as 2023, they said.
While the investment amount could fluctuate, Samsung’s plans would mean upwards of $10 billion to bankroll the project, one of the people said.
Samsung is taking advantage of a concerted US government effort to counter China’s rising economic prowess and lure back home some of the advanced manufacturing that over the past decades has gravitated towards Asia. The hope is that such production bases in the US will galvanise local businesses and support American industry and chip design.
Intel Corp’s troubles ramping up on technology and its potential reliance in the future on TSMC and Samsung for at least some of its chipmaking only underscored the extent to which Asian giants have forged ahead in recent years. The envisioned plant will be its first in the US to use extreme ultraviolet lithography, the standard for next-generation silicon, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about internal deliberations. Asked about plans for a US facility, Samsung said in an email no decision has yet been made.
“If Samsung really wants to realise its goal to become the top chipmaker by 2030, it needs massive investment in the US to catch up with TSMC,” said Greg Roh, senior vice president at HMC Securities. “TSMC is likely to keep making progress in process nodes to 3nm at its Arizona plant and Samsung may do the same.
One challenging task is to secure EUV equipment now, when Hynix and Micron are also seeking to purchase the machines.”
If Samsung goes ahead, it would effectively go head-to-head on American soil with TSMC, which is on track to build its own $12 billion chip plant in Arizona by 2024.
Samsung has been looking into overseas chipmaking for years.