At an internal meeting in Germany, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company has decided to use made-in-US chips produced at an Arizona plant in 2024 but did not mention the manufacturer by name.
Currently, Apple procures chips for its devices from its long-term partner, the Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest foundry. As part of its $100 billion investment to expand its production footprint, TSMC began construction of a $12 billion chip manufacturing unit in Arizona in June 2021 with the aim to begin production of 5nm chips in 2024.
Recently, it was reported that TSMC was gearing up to invest in its second multibillion-dollar factory in Arizona. The manufacturer is expected to invest $12 billion in the new plant as it did in the Phoenix plant. It is very likely that Cook was referring to TSMC’s new plants in Arizona.
[Update: At a recent event attended by President Joe Biden, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the company will be using made-in-U.S. chips manufactured at TSMC’s new Arizona fab. He said that it was an incredibly significant moment. CNBC reports:
“Today is only the beginning,” Cook said. “Today we’re combining TSMC’s expertise with the unrivaled ingenuity of American workers. We are investing in a stronger brighter future, we are planting our seed in the Arizona desert. And at Apple, we are proud to help nurture its growth.”
“Apple had to buy all the advanced chips from overseas, now they’re going to bring more of their supply chain home,” Biden said. “It could be a game-changer.”
In addition to the US, Apple is ready to use chips from Europe to reduce reliance on Asia
Apple’s supply chain is predominantly centered around China but the country’s political issues and COVID-19 policies have impacted the tech giant’s production. To reduce its reliance on China, the tech company has been diversifying its supply chain outside the country by increasing production volume in India and Vietnam.
Now, it is confirmed that Apple is preparing to use chips from U.S. and Europe by 2024. As per Bloomberg’s report, Cook said:
“We’ve already made a decision to be buying out of a plant in Arizona, and this plant in Arizona starts up in ’24, so we’ve got about two years ahead of us on that one, maybe a little less,” Cook told the employees. “And in Europe, I’m sure that we will also source from Europe as those plans become more apparent,” he said at the meeting, which included Apple services chief Eddy Cue and Deirdre O’Brien, its head of retail and human resources.
Another reason for Apple to pivot from Asia could be the new tech export ban. Last month, President Joe Biden’s administration passed a strict law that prohibits exports of “advanced technology” to companies based in China mostly to boost domestic production. TSMC was granted a one-year exemption.
The US government is dangling roughly $50 billion in incentives — part of legislation known as the Chips and Science Act — to encourage semiconductor manufacturing to expand stateside. The iPhone maker currently sources its device processors from TSMC plants located in Taiwan, an area with an outsized share of production.