2nm fab in Europe futile says report : Page 2 of 3

April 12, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
European 2nm chip fab a "futile endeavour," says think tank
An independent think tank in Berlin concludes there is no business case to support the European production of 2nm chips as the US holds its second supply chain summit

chip manufacturing.

Total wafer capacity by region and technology node as of December 2020 (millions of wafer starts per month). Source: Stiftung Neue Verantwortung. Europe has barely invested in chip making over the last 10 years while China's capacity has tripled.

Kleinhans concludes that Europe creates almost no demand for leading-edge silicon and could not expect to sell chips to areas where the demand is high, essentially the United States. The US fabless chip companies will buy either from TSMC, Samsung or possibly Intel who all have plans for leading-edge fabs in the United States.

"It is true that NXP and ST do use 7nm and 5nm production, but just not enough," he said. 

Estimated share of 7nm and 5nm wafer shipments by customer in 2021. Source: Stiftung Neue Verantwortung. Europe has no named customers and is contained within the RoM zone.

This makes option two or three more likely to be implemented but no more likely to succeed.

Finally Intel's offer to turn to foundry supply out of Ireland and Israel and potentially build another fab in Europe should be welcomed but are unlikely to get to the leading-edge. But Intel should be welcomed because serving Europe with trailing-edge silicon for automotive and industrial applications is the area Europe has a proven demand.

In response to questions about the European Union invoking extreme subsidy measures to pay a leading-edge foundry to manufacture in Europe Kleinhans said that this would be in contravention of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

There is the possibility that the European Union and nations around the world may abandon the WTO and re-introduce tariffs and other trade measures to achieve the goal of strategic independence in semiconductors. But this is not something that Kleimhans' report considered.

The main conclusion is that a focus on a 2nm leading-edge wafer fab in pursuit of technological


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