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Sohu: U.S. Wafer Fab Construction Near Slowest in the World

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu (NASDAQ: SOHU) recently reported on a study done by Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service Think Tank regarding the speeds at which various countries have been able to complete construction of silicon wafer fabs (integrated circuit fabrication facilities). Sohu reported that the construction speed of wafer fabs in the United States is among the slowest in the world, and that Mainland China is quickly catching up in speed to the U.S. Below are some key points from the article:

Since the 1890s, a total of 635 new wafer fabs have been built around the world, with an average construction time of 682 days. The fastest construction time for wafer fabs is in Japan, which takes an average of 584 days to construct its factories , followed by South Korea at 620 days, Taiwan at 654 days, Europe and the Middle East at 690 days, and Mainland China at 701 days. In the United States, it takes up to 736 days, which is only slightly faster than the 781 days in Southeast Asia.

In 1990s and 2000s, wafer fabs construction in the United States took an average of only 675 days. By the 2010s, the fab construction speed had slowed to 918 days. Meanwhile, Mainland China and Taiwan shortened their fab construction times to 675 and 642 days, respectively. Entering the 2020s, the construction of wafer fabs in the United States is even more difficult and often cannot be completed on schedule. For example, TSMC’s Fab #21 in Arizona has been postponed for another year; Intel’s factory in Ohio has been postponed from 2025 to the end of 2026; and Samsung’s factory in Texas has been postponed to 2025.

The biggest factor leading to slowdown of fab construction in the United States is the various complicated laws and regulations, which may seem to be of benefit to the public, but which seriously hinder the development of semiconductors.

Source: Sohu, February 17, 2024