08 Feb 2024 -

Japan’s semiconductor rebirth: chip fab boom in 2024

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The electronics industry in Japan is poised for a significant boost with the anticipated mass production from several new chip fabrication facilities (fabs) across the country. This surge in domestic production is expected to bolster Japan’s semiconductor supply chain and enhance its chip-making capabilities.

At the forefront of this revival is Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), a joint venture between TSMC, Sony, and Nippon Denso. Their 12-inch wafer fab in Kikuyo Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, is nearing completion, targeting mass production in Q4 2024. Utilizing 12nm, 16nm, 22nm, and 28nm technologies, the fab marks a significant leap for Japan, transitioning from Renesas Electronics’ 40nm to JASM’s cutting-edge 12nm process. This move is seen as a pivotal step in Japan’s semiconductor revival strategy.

Beyond logic chips

Expanding beyond logic chips, Kioxia and Western Digital are gearing up for mass production of 3D NAND flash memory at their joint venture factory in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, starting March 2024. Additionally, another joint venture fab in Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture, is slated to open later this year, focusing on 3D NAND production as well.

Powering the EV revolution

Recognizing the growing demand for electric vehicle (EV) power semiconductors, Renesas Electronics is investing 90 billion yen to install a new 12-inch silicon wafer production line at an existing facility. This expansion will significantly increase their production capacity for IGBTs and MOSFETs, crucial components in EV powertrains. Mass production is expected to begin in 2024.

Joining the fray

Toshiba and its subsidiary Kaga Toshiba Electronics are constructing a new factory in Nomi-shi, Ishikawa Prefecture, equipped with a cutting-edge 12-inch silicon power semiconductor wafer manufacturing line. The facility is scheduled for completion in March 2025. Additionally, Toshiba is collaborating with ROHM on a new silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor plant in Kunitomi City, Miyazaki Prefecture.

Bright future

The report predicts a continued surge in fab construction beyond 2025. Micron Technology’s new 1-gamma (1γ) DRAM production plant in Hiroshima Prefecture, JSMC’s planned mass production in 2027, and Rapidus’ ambitious 2nm chip production in the same year are just a few examples. Furthermore, TSMC is actively evaluating the construction of a second fab in Japan, with an official announcement expected on February 6th.

This surge in domestic chip production is not only expected to strengthen Japan’s semiconductor industry but also foster innovation and collaboration within the electronics sector. The coming years promise exciting developments as Japan reclaims its position in the global semiconductor landscape.

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