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A first look at TSMC's giant 5-nanometer chip fab being built in Phoenix

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company makes 24% of all the world's chips, and 92% of the most advanced ones found in today's iPhones, fighter jets and supercomputers. Now TSMC is building America's first 5-nanometer fabrication plant, hoping to reverse a decades-long trend of the U.S. losing chip manufacturing to Asia. CNBC got an exclusive tour of the $12 billion fab that will start production in 2024.
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Sat, Oct 16 20219:29 AM EDT

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company may not be a household name, but it makes almost all of the world's most advanced semiconductors. TSMC chips are in everything from F-35 fighter jets to NASA's Perseverance Rover that went to Mars. It's Apple's exclusive provider of the most advanced chips inside every iPhone currently on the market and most Mac computers.

See also: Inside TSMC, the Taiwanese chipmaking giant building a new plant in Phoenix

TSMC alone was responsible for 24% of the world's semiconductor output in 2020, up from 21% in 2019, according to the company. When it comes to the most advanced chips used in the latest iPhones, supercomputers and automotive AI, TSMC is responsible for 92% of production while Samsung is responsible for the other 8%, according to research group Capital Economics.

Now one of the world's ten most valuable companies, TSMC is leveraging its resources to bring the world's most advanced chip manufacturing back to U.S. soil.

Although TSMC almost never allows U.S. camera crews onto their facilities, CNBC got an exclusive tour of the $12 billion fabrication plant, or fab, outside Phoenix, Arizona, which will make parts for iPhones and the most advanced computer processors.

TSMC was first listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 1994, and in 1997 it became the first Taiwan company listed on the NY Stock Exchange. By the 2000s, it had caught up with the 20 or so other companies making the most advanced chips at the time. As the tech kept advancing, more and more fell behind until today, only two manufacturers remain that can make the most advanced 5-nanometer chips: TSMC and Samsung.

Watch the video to see the exclusive tour of TSMC's Arizona site and inside the chip giant's massive fabs in Taiwan.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct the location of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's new plant.