Japanese CEO of Renesas says there are no plans to build chip production facilities in the US


Hidetoshi Shibata, chief executive of Japanese semiconductor maker Renesas Electronics Corporation, poses with a circuit board at the San Jose office in San Jose, California, U.S., July 20, 2022. REUTERS/Jane Lanhee Lee

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SAN JOSE, Calif., July 20 (Reuters) – Japanese semiconductor maker Renesas Electronics Corp. (6723.T) has no plans to build chip factories in the United States and will continue to increase production in Japan, chief executive Hidetoshi Shibata said. Wednesday.

“As far as front-end production goes, I don’t necessarily think there are good ingredient supplies in geographies like Europe or the United States,” Shibata said. He was speaking to Reuters in Silicon Valley after meeting employees of US chip companies that Renesas had acquired in recent years.

Front-end production is the process of creating chips on wafers, shiny round plates of silicon. They are then sent for packaging, often in black plastic cases.

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While keeping manufacturing concentrated in Japan posed risks, with earthquakes sometimes disrupting production, Shibata said Renesas was investing in technology to deal with the challenges of natural disasters. Additionally, he would keep a stock of chips that he could supply to customers in the event of a shutdown.

Renesas said in May it would invest 90 billion yen ($650 million) in its previously shuttered Kofu plant in Japan, revamping it to build power chips – semiconductors that handle electricity.

This expansion aims to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles. Renesas, whose shareholders include Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and automotive supplier Denso Corp (6902.T), is a major supplier of chips to the automotive industry.

Shibata said that while at the macro level there was “enough capacity around the world to meet all the demand”, there were still significant shortages of power management chips and some analog chips. and mixed-signal (analog and digital) with larger transistors. .

Generally, the smaller the transistors, the faster and more powerful a chip will be. While the latest smartphones have chips with 5 nanometer transistors, the automotive industry uses more mature technology, often 40 nanometers or more.

Shibata said Renesas’ manufacturing expansion would stick to 40-nanometer or larger technology to meet that demand.

Still, the company continued to design chips close to the latest technology, he said, and its automotive customers were “sampling” its first 7-nanometer chip. But it is made by other chip makers.

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Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Bradley Perrett

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