GlobalWafers, one of the world’s largest suppliers of silicon wafer substrates for chip production, disclosed (opens in new tab) plans to build a silicon wafer factory in Texas. The announcement precedes the launches of multiple new semiconductor manufacturing facilities by Intel, Samsung Foundry, and TSMC in the U.S. The new factory will cost $5 billion.
The new factory in Sherman, Texas, will be built in multiple phases, with production volumes reaching 1.2 million 300-mm wafers per month. The new wafer manufacturing facility will be the largest in the U.S. and also will be among the largest in the world, the company said.
The company will start to build the new factory later this year and expects the first production in early 2025, slightly later than some of the new American semiconductor fabs come online in 2023 ~ 2024. Currently, GlobalWafers already has a wafer production facility in Missouri, but it is far smaller than the facility that will be constructed in the coming years.
The chip supply crisis and vulnerabilities of the global semiconductor supply chain centered on Taiwan and South Korea prompted multiple chipmakers with production in the U.S. — GlobalFoundries, Intel, Samsung Foundry, Texas Instruments, and TSMC — to expand local manufacturing capacities. But it is not enough to have new fabs to support local chip manufacturing: the whole supply chain has to be localized. For example, most wafer substrates are produced in Asia, whereas Japan leads the industry with high-purity gases and other materials. Meanwhile, importing these things overseas to the U.S. is expensive and further complicates the supply chain.
While Intel, GlobalFoundries, Samsung, and TI already run enormous fabs in the U.S. and have local suppliers, the new fabs they are building require more wafer substrates and more raw materials. As a result, companies like GlobalWafers have to act and make rather unprecedented investments to support future demand for chips.