But engineer salaries cost have very little impact to Fab's competitiveness. UMC engineers probably only get 70% of TSMC engineers but gives UMC no advantage.
In my opinion, cost difference came from so many different small factors which ultimately makes huge cost difference.
For example, 3-6 months difference to build a new Fab. 3-6 months difference to improve yield for new nodes. For daily operation, almost all TSMC supplier are 24h stand by to fix the problem. Even the same 24h stand by duty, TSMC's culture (peer pressure) may force you to work extra harder to solve a little problem today instead of wait for tomorrow. Actually former TSMC top executive Konrad Young predicted that those TSMC employees moving from Taiwan to US. Afterworking with local American coworkers, they will find out there are more important stuff in life other than work so the culture will change immediately and will no longer work as hard as they do in Taiwan.
Intel Foundry Services have to dance with many customers at one in the future. Those small factors may result in a even larger cost difference.
Once we consider all the cost factors such as productivity/efficiency, material and equipment cost, salary and benefits, taxes/pension/health insurance, and the availability of the necessary resources, making leading edge semiconductor in US is a very expensive proposition. It's not just 7% to 17% cost difference estimated by Scotten can explain.
Below is my old post about the productivity comparison between TSMC and Intel for 2021. For 2022 the difference between TSMC and Intel is getting even bigger. Intel's 2022 net income dropped to $8.02 billion while TSMC's increased to $34.07 billion.
If we measure the employee productivity by net profit, TSMC is significantly stronger than Intel.
2021 TSMC average net profit per employee, based on 65,000 employees and US$21.354 billion net profit for 2021:
2021 Intel average net profit per employee, based on total 121,000 employees and US$19.87 billion net profit for 2021: