Global Chip Shortage May Last Through Into 2022: Bain & Co.
Samsung Electronics Co. is considering a second location in Texas for its envisioned US$17 billion U.S. semiconductor plant, a signature project that could address U.S. concerns about chip security while expanding its own capabilities.
The Korean company is exploring another 6 million square-foot site apart from a previously disclosed expansion of its Austin base, according to documents filed with local government. If it goes ahead, Samsung will begin construction at the Williamson Country site around the first quarter of 2022, with targeted production by the final three months of 2024.
Samsung is weighing options for an advanced chipmaking plant in the U.S., in hopes of winning more American clients and narrowing the gap with industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The company had been in discussions to locate a facility in Austin, Texas, capable of fabricating chips as advanced as 3 nanometers, people familiar with the matter have said.
Dubbed Project Silicon Silver, that plan included adding about 7 million square feet of new space to the Austin campus, where the company has had operations for decades. It called for investment about US$17 billion and the creation of about 1,800 jobs over the first ten years, according to an economic impact study prepared by a local consultant. Those objectives were echoed in the filing made public Thursday for Williamson County, which is just north of Austin.
In a January filing, the company detailed a timeline for the Austin project that spanned breaking ground in the second quarter of 2021 with production up and running by the fourth quarter of 2023. It’s also evaluating alternative sites in Arizona and New York, as well as in South Korea.
Samsung is taking advantage of a concerted U.S. 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 toward Asia. In June, President Joe Biden laid out a sweeping effort to secure the country’s critical supply chains, including a proposed US$52 billion to bolster domestic chip manufacturing.
The hope is that such production bases in the U.S. will galvanize 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.
If Samsung goes ahead, it would effectively go head-to-head on American soil with TSMC, which is on track to build its own US$12 billion chip plant in Arizona by 2024. Samsung is trying to catch TSMC in the so-called foundry business of making chips for the world’s corporations -- a particularly pivotal capability given a deepening shortage of semiconductors in recent weeks.
Under Samsung family scion Jay Y. Lee, the company has said it wants to be the biggest player in the US$400 billion chip industry. It plans to invest US$151 billion through 2030 into its foundry and chip design businesses, aiming to catch TSMC by offering chips made using 3-nanometer technology in 2022.