The European Union is considering building an advanced semiconductor factory in Europe in an attempt to avoid relying on the U.S. and Asia for technology at the heart of some of its major industries.
The EU is exploring how to produce semiconductors with features smaller than 10 nanometers, and eventually down to 2 nanometer chips, according to people familiar with the project. The aim is to curtail dependence on countries such as Taiwan for chips to power 5G wireless systems, connected cars, high-performance computing, and more.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Samsung Electronics of South Korea, the two leaders making the most innovative processors in the sector, could be involved in the EU project but nothing has been decided, a French Finance Ministry official said in a press briefing on Thursday, following the report from Bloomberg.
The plans come at a time when automakers are grappling with semiconductor shortages. Volkswagen Group has lost tens of thousands of cars in production, and Daimler has said it’s doing everything it can to minimize effects of the industrywide supply bottleneck. While the problem may prove to be short-lived, the issue has highlighted Europe’s reliance on sourcing key technology from abroad.
European attempts to ramp up production -- led in part by European Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton -- could involve re-developing an existing foundry or building a new one, the people said, who added no final decision has been taken and the time frame of the project is still to be determined.
A European Commission spokesperson did not respond to requests to comment. A spokesperson for TSMC declined to comment.