Your next iPhone won’t be stamped Made in America. But pry open the casing in 2025 and you may see semiconductor chips that were etched into silicon in the Arizona desert.
While it will be scorching outside, the Phoenix “fab” gearing up to produce Apple’s chips will be cool, clean, and cutting-edge. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is plowing $40 billion into the project, aiming to crank out 600,000 chips a year. Apple CEO Tim Cook, at a “tool in” ceremony last year, said Apple would be “proud” to be the fab’s biggest customer.
That’s no coincidence. Apple is TSMC’s largest source of business, worth billions in annual revenue. Apple is looking for chip security, among many companies seeking to shore up supplies amid rising geopolitical tensions and fears over disruptions.
Good question. At least its not California. But close enough for access to Silicon Valley.
Much better than Ohio which has plenty of water but is 4 or 5 hrs from Silicon Valley by air.
How is desalination potential in Arizona? Is is practical to bring in water from the Pacific for treatment?
Fortunately chip manufacturing does not require lots of water. And what they use is probably highly treated to remove all impurities. Probably more concerned about cooling water for the AC system.
Back on 4/3/2021, I included the following in a post here about semiconductor companies in Arizona:
Also relevant is this 6/4/2021 article addressing “Why Intel and TSMC are building water-dependent chip factories in one of the driest U.S. states”
• Glenn O’Donnell, vice president and research director at analyst firm Forrester, comments, "Chip fabrication plants ‘recycle water religiously,’ adding that it’s a bit like a swimming pool in an enclosed building. You need a lot to fill it, but you don’t have to add much to keep it going. Also, being in an enclosed space, a lot of the water that evaporates can be captured with a dehumidifier and returned to the pool. The fabs will do similar things with their own water usage.”
• Intel has had a presence in Arizona for over 40 years and the state is home to a well-established semiconductor ecosystem. Intel now employs over 12,000 people in Arizona and the state is home to Intel’s newest manufacturing facility, Fab 42. Other major chip companies with a presence in Arizona include On Semiconductor, NXP and Microchip.
• Alan Priestley, vice president analyst at tech research firm Gartner, adds, “As Intel has increased its presence in Arizona, the local universities have established a strong reputation for semiconductor design courses and research providing a highly-skilled work force for the local semi industry. This has helped create an ecosystem of companies to supply the products and services necessary to manufacture chips.”
• O’Donnell adds: Arizona’s seismic stability and relatively low risk of other natural interference are appealing to chipmakers. A chip factory cannot shake, not even a microscopic amount. Factories are set into the bedrock to keep them still. Even a 0.5 Richter shake can ruin an entire crop of chips. Arizona is also immune from most other natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires
Another excellent read, Intel’s Water Restoration in Arizona.
To support Intel’s commitment to achieve net positive water use, we have funded more than 15 water restoration projects benefiting Arizona. Once fully implemented, these projects will restore an estimated one billion gallons each year. This page provides a summary of Intel-funded projects supporting Arizona’s water resources.
The above website has since been updated as follows:
To support Intel’s commitment to achieve net positive water use, we have funded 20 water restoration projects benefiting Arizona. Once fully implemented, these projects will restore almost 2.2 billion gallons each year (not including single-year water leasing projects). This page provides a summary of Intel-funded projects supporting Arizona’s water resources.
A more recent topnotch thought provoking read is available online at the American Bar Association website, February 01, 2023 “A Tale of Two Shortages: Reconciling Demand for Water and Microchips in Arizona.” The ABA article states, “The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only.” Also, TMF was unable to provide a direct link to the ABA website.
There is more to that.
It is possible and it is being discussed. But there are many challenges. This article was also the basis of a The Daily podcast recently.