TSMC to build second fab in Japan, backed by local investment

Plus: SMIC said to be building new lines to make 5nm process chips designed by Huawei

TSMC is set to build a second semiconductor manufacturing plant in Japan with investment from Toyota and other local corporations. The move is being portrayed as a success for Japan's efforts to boost chip production in the country.

The Taiwanese chipmaking behemoth said it plans to erect the latest wafer fabrication facility alongside one it is already building in Kumamoto prefecture, with construction scheduled to begin by the end of 2024, and operations expected to start by the end of calendar 2027.

That first fab is scheduled to commence operation in 2024, and once both are up and running, TSMC said it expects the Kumamoto site to offer a total production capacity of more than 100,000 12in (300mm) wafers per month.

The two fabs will be producing wafers manufactured using a range of process nodes technologies, including 6nm and 7nm up to more mature nodes such as 22nm, 28nm and 40nm, in order to make chips suitable for automotive, industrial, consumer, and HPC-related applications.

This expansion is enabled by further investment into Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), a TSMC subsidiary that is partly owned by Japanese outfits Toyota, Sony, and Denso, created to build and operate the fabs.

The total investment in JASM so far exceeds $20 billion with TSMC taking an 86.5 percent stake, Sony Semiconductor Solutions 6 percent, Denso 5.5 percent, and Toyota just 2 percent. TSMC also said the expansion had "strong support from the Japanese government."

Japan this week said it was passing an extra $1 billion to memory chipmakers Kioxia and Western Digital to boost production of flash memory from their fabs near the Japanese cities of Yokkaichi and Kitakami.

The Japanese government is also pumping cash into a newly formed domestic semiconductor outfit called Rapidus that is using technology and assistance from IBM to start producing 2nm chips by 2027. The company started construction of its first fabrication facility in September last year.

Meanwhile, Chinese chip companies are also seeking to up their game, despite the best efforts of the Biden administration to curb their ability to produce advanced chips.

According to the Financial Times, chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) is putting together new production lines in Shanghai to manufacture 5nm processor chips that have been designed by technology giant Huawei.

SMIC is said to be aiming to adapt existing chipmaking machinery acquired from US and Dutch companies before the ban of sales of such equipment came into effect, according to anonymous sources. These will be used to make Kirin chips designed by Huawei's HiSilicon to power the company's smartphones.

Huawei caused a stir last year when the processor in its Mate 60 Pro was revealed to be a homegrown 7nm chip. ®

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