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GlobalWafers announces plans for massive US facility – AFR

Taiwan’s GlobalWafers on Monday unveiled plans to build a massive facility in north Texas to manufacture a component vital to semiconductor manufacturing at an investment of up to $5 billion.

But the plan to manufacture silicon wafers, which would bolster weak computer chip supplies, largely depends on legislation pending in the US Congress.

“In the face of global chip shortages and ongoing geopolitical concerns, GlobalWafers is taking this opportunity to address semiconductor supply chain resilience in the United States,” said Doris Hsu, GW chairman and CEO, in a statement.

“Instead of importing wafers from Asia, GlobalWafers USA (GWA) will produce and supply wafers locally.”

The material is used to make chips needed for everything from cars to smartphones, and global shortages in recent months have pushed US prices higher.

Construction of the new facility — the first of its kind in more than two decades — is slated to begin this year in Sherman, Texas, with first production rolling off the line as early as 2025 and creating up to 1,500 jobs. it said in the statement.

However, GW President Mark England said the impasse in Congress over the $52 billion “CHIPS Act” designed to boost US industry could hamper plans.

“The size and possibly the timeliness of the Texas investment” is at stake, he told AFP in an email.

Democrats and Republicans are bickering over the different versions passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, and have not agreed on the final form of legislation that would grant subsidies to manufacturers.

England said in a statement the legislation would help “level the global stimulus environment” and would be instrumental in securing semiconductor investment and supply.

US and state officials cheered the announcement, but Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo pushed for speedy passage of the CHIPS bill.

“We are at a crucial moment to expand domestic semiconductor production,” she said. “The speedy passage of this legislation will demonstrate America’s commitment to robust domestic semiconductor capacity and give more companies across the supply chain the confidence they need to make investments here.”

The 300mm silicon wafers are the starting material for all advanced semiconductor manufacturing plants (or fabs), including the recently announced US expansions of GlobalFoundries, Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments and TSMC, but most are imported from Asia.

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