TSMC starts hiring Americans to man its upcoming U.S. fab in Arizona

TSMC starts hiring Americans to man its upcoming U.S. fab in Arizona
One of the things that the Trump administration got right was its successful romance with the top contract foundry in the world, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Born from Trump's desire to move tech production out of Asia and into the U.S., TSMC last May announced that it would build its first U.S. fab in Arizona with the plant going live in 2024. Originally it was thought that the factory would use cutting-edge manufacturing technology, but it is now believed that the first chips to roll out off of the U.S. assembly lines will use the 5nm process node making those components as many as two process nodes behind what TSMC will be churning out in Taiwan during the same time period.

TSMC Arizona hires its first 250 employees, sends 100 to Taiwan to train

TSMC currently uses the 5nm process to produce chips like Apple's A14 Bionic (Apple is TSMC's largest customer). The SoC that powers the iPhone 12 series is equipped with 11.8 billion transistors and carries a transistor density of 134 million per square mm. By the second half of 2022, TSMC will be producing chips using the 3nm process node and by 2024 it could be shipping 2nm chips.

Still, TSMC's U.S. facility, which will cost the company $12 billion, could become the starting point in an attempt to make America more self-sufficent when it comes to chips and that could be a good thing. Today, the Phoenix Business Journal reported that TSMC has hired its first batch of employees for the Arizona facility and some of them have been flown to Taiwan for training. The 250 people who have been hired will work in fab operations and human resources and includes technical specialists and engineers.

TSMC Arizona, as the U.S.-based unit is called, has its own CEO named Rick Cassidy who said, "We’ve already hired more than 250 stellar engineers and have entrusted them to our most advanced fab so they can bring up these industry-leading technologies to the United States. I’m delighted to welcome our first class of TSMC Arizona employees and look forward to working alongside them to help customers enable the technologies that will change our world." The aforementioned $12 billion will be spent by TSMC from 2021 to 2029 and the fab will be located on 1,128 acres of land in north Phoenix.

The 100 employees who have been sent to Taiwan for training will spend the next 12 months to 18 months at Fab 18, one of five "Giga-fabs" on the Island that turn out chips for TSMC. Once their training is complete, these new employees will be sent back to America.

In a statement, TSMC Arizona's CEO Cassidy noted that "One of the key factors that drew us to expand in the United States was our confidence that the strength and diversity of the engineering talent pipeline from colleges and universities across the country would provide us with outstanding recruits. We are deeply committed to achieving diversity in our workforce, because that’s what drives innovation forward."

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But Cassidy's comments seem to contradict those made by TSMC founder Morris Chang. Last week, Chang said that he doubted that TSMC Arizona will be able to find enough engineers that are qualified to work in TSMC's Arizona fab. Chang stated that manufacturing jobs have not been popular among Americans for quite a number of  years.

For those who wonder why TSMC doesn't send experienced workers to Arizona to help train Americans, Chang said that such a plan wouldn't work because of the cultural differences between people from both countries. But only good things came out of the mouth of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego who said, "I'm very pleased to see how TSMC is honoring its hiring commitments from the very beginning. These new, high-value jobs are a powerful addition to our local economy. I want to be the first to congratulate them, and to welcome those who are relocating to join us in America’s fastest-growing city."

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