TSMC, Apple’s sole A-series chip supplier for the iPhone 6 and 7 (and rumored exclusive supplier for the iPhone 8 also), is considering building a foundry in the USA, reports Reuters. While the company had previously said that it hadn’t ruled out the idea, it now says that it will make a definite decision one way or the other in 2018 …

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Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a major Apple Inc supplier, on Monday said it would take a decision next year on whether to build a U.S. chip plant […]

“We won’t make a decision until next year,” TSMC spokesperson Michael Kramer said. 

While TSMC currently sells the majority of its chips to American companies, it says there would be significant drawbacks to a U.S. plant.

“We would sacrifice some benefits if we move to the States. But we have flexibility in Taiwan. If an earthquake happened for instance (in Taiwan), we could send thousands of people here as support, whereas it’s harder in the States,” he told Reuters.

If it did go ahead despite this, it would be looking at an investment of around $16B.

One factor behind the company’s consideration of the idea may be concern that Apple could switch to Intel chips for iPhones from next year after the company’s decision to start making ARM-based chips.

The report also notes that Intel could have a home court advantage over Asia-based Samsung and TSMC as Apple is pressured to work with US-based companies. Intel’s headquarters is based out of Santa Clara, California.

TSMC is heavily dependent on Apple’s A-series chip business, its role as sole supplier for the A10 chip is responsible for record revenue and profits last year. Samsung is also making a fresh push to try to win back processor business from Apple.