SoftBank, NEC, Sony, Toyota and more team up for Rapidus, Japan’s bid for next-gen chip dominance • TechCrunch


As the tech war between the United States and China escalates, Japan has spotted an opening to build a viable alternative to semiconductors, including so that its own consumer electronics companies don’t run out of memory chips. . Today, eight major Japanese technology companies and automakers, including Kioxia, NEC, NTT, SoftBank, Sony and Toyota, are joining forces in a consortium to launch an advanced chipmaker. Rapidus, as it will be known, aims to develop and mass-produce the next generation of logic semiconductors by 2027.

The Japanese government said on Friday it would back Rapidus with 70 billion yen (~$500 million), joining the eight tech companies to reduce its reliance on chip production in other countries like Taiwan. According to Japan’s Ministry of Industry, each participating company will invest around 1 billion yen (~$7 million) in Rapidus, with MUFG Bank injecting 300 million yen.

“Semiconductors are going to be an essential element to develop new cutting-edge technologies such as AI, digital industries and health technologies”, said the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura at a press conference today. “Semiconductors are becoming even more important from an economic security perspective” due to growing geopolitical risks.

Last week, Japan unveiled his project allocate 350 billion yen ($2.38 billion) to build a joint research center with the United States to develop advanced 2-nanometer chips. A number of research institutes and semiconductor companies in the United States, Japan and Europe will attend the research center to collaborate. In addition to the investment in the new joint research center, the Japanese government plans to invest 450 billion yen in peak production and 370 billion yen in securing materials needed for manufacturing.

IBM is would have in partnership with Rapidus, which will need to obtain a license from IBM to manufacture the sub-2 nanometer chip technology in Japan.

Rapidus aims to develop 2-nanometer chips, which can be used for 5G, quantum computing, data centers, autonomous vehicles and digital smart cities.

Japan has previously subsidized global allies in the semiconductor sector, including Semiconductor manufacturing in Taiwan, Micron, and Western Digital, to expand their chip production in Japan. The idea here is to bolster its competitiveness in the semiconductor sector with R&D and production of its own advanced chips, primarily for use by Japanese automakers and technology companies, but potentially for others as well.

While global competitors have outperformed in the industry, Japan’s latest logic semiconductor production lines are for 40nm chips, by media.

Samsung started mass production of 3nm this yearand TSMC plans to begin mass production in 3nm at the end of this year.


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