Taiwan-based chipmaker TSMC has received the green light to build what is said to be the world’s first 3-nanometer manufacturing plant.
TSMC, currently the world’s largest contract semiconductor manufacturing firm, has been cleared to begin the construction of the new chip factory at the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan, according to Taiwan News report.
The new factory passed the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA)’s environmental impact assessment on Wednesday. There had been concerns about the factory using up an excessive amount of water and power sources. The chipmaker previously promised that the new fab would use 20% renewable energy and 50% recycled water.
TSMC is pouring NTD 600 billion (around $19.5 billion) worth of investment into the construction of the new plant, which is planned to begin in 2020. The chipmaker is expected to enter production trial run in 2021 and begin mass production as early as 2022.
TSMC is building a 5nm chip plant at the same site, which is expected to be completed and running by late next year or early 2020.
The Taiwanese chipmaker reportedly kept the 3nm production schedule confidential in order to prevent its rivals such as Samsung from accelerating investment in 3nm chip production. However, talks about the company’s new 3nm fab have been going on for a while.
Last year, it was rumored that TSMC was considering moving the new facility to the US, lured by incentives offered by Trump administration to bring more manufacturing into the country.
According to local media reports, analyst Wang Zhao Li reckons that the powerful 3nm chip’s main applications will be in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and 5G. Apple, Huawei, Google, and Nvidia would likely be the potential customers for TSMC’s new chip.
Apple is the Taiwanese company’s largest client, which is said to account for nearly 20% of the company’s revenue.