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Intel, TSMC In Talks With White House To Build U.S. Foundries: Report

'This is more important than ever, given the uncertainty created by the current geopolitical environment,' Intel CEO Bob Swan reportedly says in a letter to U.S. Department of Defense officials about a proposal to build a commercial foundry that would have the ability to produce chips for other companies.

Chipmakers Intel and TSMC are reportedly in talks with the White House to build foundries in the U.S. to lower the country's reliance on supply chains in Asia.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Intel, the world's largest semiconductor company, and TSMC, a Taiwanese semiconductor foundry that produces chips for rivals AMD and Nvidia as well as Apple, are talking to Trump administration officials with the hope of jump-starting the development of U.S. foundries that produce next-generation chips for other companies.

 [Related: Intel Sees Laptop CPU Sales Spike, But PC Slowdown Expected]

Unlike Intel's current fab production sites in Arizona, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Oregon, the newly proposed foundry in the U.S. would have the capacity produce chips for other companies on contract in the same way that TSMC does for AMD and Nvidia, the newspaper reported. Intel's international fabs are in Ireland, Israel and China.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Defense officials in late April, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Intel CEO Bob Swan said the company is hoping to build a commercial foundry in partnership with the Pentagon to "supply a broad range of microelectronics" to meet federal government security and infrastructure needs.

"This is more important than ever, given the uncertainty created by the current geopolitical environment," Swan wrote in the letter.

An Intel spokesperson confirmed that the company is “in discussions with United States Department of Defense to explore how to ensure continued U.S. technological leadership and strengthen domestic sources for state-of-the-art microelectronics and related technology.”

“As the largest U.S.-owned manufacturer of semiconductors, Intel is well positioned to work with the U.S. Government to operate a U.S.-owned commercial foundry and supply a broad range of secure microelectronics," the spokesperson said.

The Wall Street Journal—which reported that some U.S. officials are also seeking to help Samsung Electronics Co. expand its U.S. foundry capacity—said the talks to ramp up U.S. foundry capacity have been in the works for a while but have been accelerated recently due to concerns about supply chains in Asia that have been underscored by the coronavirus pandemic. There is also a concern about the availability of domestically produced chips to the defense industry.

The newspaper said TSMC has been discussing the possibility of building a foundry in the U.S. with the Commerce and Defense departments as well as Apple, which sources chip production from the Taiwanese manufacturer for processors it designs in-house.

TSMC told The Wall Street Journal that the company is "actively evaluating all the suitable locations, including in the U.S., but there is no concrete plan yet."

TSMC and Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CRN.

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