With Diplomatic Tensions rising between the U.S. and China over the Wuhan Virus, Intel and TSMC Consider U.S. Chip Plants
Intel Corp is in discussions with the United States Department of Defense over improving domestic sources for microelectronics and related technology, Intel spokesman William Moss said in an emailed statement.
The statement continued: "Intel is well positioned to work with the U.S. government to operate a U.S.-owned commercial foundry and supply a broad range of secure microelectronics."
Intel Chief Executive Bob Swan wrote a letter to the Department of Defense in late March in which he expressed the company’s willingness to build a foundry - a term used in the industry to reference a chip factory - in partnership with the Pentagon.
Reuters has seen the letter from Swan which added that "This is more important than ever, given the uncertainty created by the current geopolitical environment."
Swan further noted that "We currently think it is in the best interest of the United States and of Intel to explore how Intel could operate a commercial U.S. foundry to supply a broad range of microelectronics.
It comes amid increasing diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and China during the coronavirus outbreak, with both sides trading barbs over who is to blame for the spread of the disease after already being involved in trade tensions for almost two years.
On a second front, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) spokeswoman Nina Kao said in a statement to Reuters that they've been in talks with the U.S. Department of Commerce about building a U.S. factory but said it has not made a final decision yet.
Over the years TSMC has been thinking of opening a plant in the U.S. which began in 2017 and continued again in a report that we posted in October 2019 titled "Apple Supplier TSMC is Extremely Important to DARPA for Military needs." The latter report provides more background on this issue. For more, read the full Reuters report.
Considering that in 2017 the context of TSMC's conversation was making chips for Apple and Qualcomm in the U.S., that door could be reconsidered should the U.S. government assist TSMC in opening a major plant for military chips. Apple and Qualcomm have the volume that could make such a move viable under the right conditions.