LONDON Ė Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, is trying to attract a company to invest there that is working under the codename Azalea, according to The Oregonian newspaper.
While confirming the activity, Business Oregon declined to provide details, the report said. The report goes on to tie the action in Oregon with a technology-based inward investment activity labeled Project Azalea that is looking at multiple sites in upstate New York.
Reports have been circulating through November that a major semiconductor company has retained consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. to find a location for a 3.2 million square foot production facility that could employ 1,000 people.
Speculation has included the possibility that foundry chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) might be looking to set down a wafer fab in North America to help it win the business of making processors for Apple. At present Samsung makes those processors for Apple at a fab in Austin, Texas. Apple and Samsung have been locked in legal disputes for more than a year as they fight for market dominance in the smart phone and tablet computer markets.
The leading chip making companies in New York are Globalfoundries Inc. and IBM Corp. but there is also substantial R&D activity on lithography and on the transition to 450-mm diameter wafers for manufacturing. In Oregon, Intel is the largest private employer and leading major chip manufacturing presence.
An alternative suggestion is that Project Azalea is not about chip manufacturing at all but is again driven by Apple requiring local U.S. manufacturing of liquid crystal displays or indeed complete systems as a part of a policy of repatriating manufacturing to the U.S.
Another possibility is that Apple is creatng a three-way race between Intel, Samsung and TSMC to provide dedicating chip manufacturing capacity for Apple processors within the U.S.
Both Oregon and NY are states with a large number of people involved in developing future nodes. Intel process development is done at Hillsboro, OR and IBM in NY is still a force to reckon with. Being able to hire away some of these highly qualified people w/o having them to relocate is no doubt a factor for TSMC site selection. As a corollary what does it say about TSMC transistor / process development below 28 nm ??