Toyota joins forces with 7 Japan firms to make next-gen china

Toyota joins other Japanese companies in Rapidus venture to develop next-gen semiconductors

Toyota Motor announces that it will join seven other leading Japanese companies in developing next-gen 2nm semiconductors. These companies include Sony Group, NEC, Toyota supplier Denso, NTT, Chipmaker Kioxia Holdings, Softbank, and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Grou. They are working alongside the Japanese government, investing a total of ¥7.3 billion (US$52.2 billion) and the government is contributing ¥70 billion (US$500 million).

Toyota joins forces with 7 Japan firms to make next-gen china
Image credits- FMT

Rapidus is intended to work with Japan’s also newly established Leading-edge Semiconductor Technology Center (LSTC)—a joint R&D hub with US and European participants—to build a mass production base for next-generation semiconductors in Japan. Rapidus will work on the research and development of 2nm generation semiconductor integration technology and short turnaround time (TAT) manufacturing technology based on Japan-US collaboration.

Rapidus will collaborate with IBM and other companies in the United States to develop technology for 2nm-generation logic semiconductors; Rapidus will demonstrate it with a test chip. After the research period ends, Rapidus aims to commercialize it as an advanced logic foundry. Japan, notes the Nikkei, has some catching up to do. Its latest logic semiconductor production lines are for 40-nm chips. Japan had not been able to keep up with the massive investments by companies overseas and other governments as competition in advanced technologies have been hot since the 2010s.

The new company

Tetsuro Higashi, former president of chip equipment maker Tokyo Electron, led the establishment of the new company. MUFG Bank will also participate, and the new firm will solicit further investment and cooperation from other companies. With competition for next-generation semiconductor technology intensifying around the world, the new company will provide a platform for collaboration with U.S. companies, as well as governments.

Toyota supplier Denso, NTT, chipmaker Kioxia Holdings, NEC, and SoftBank are among the companies expected to invest in the project, each pouring in about 1 billion yen ($6.8 million).  Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics have already established mass-production technology for 3-nm chips and plan to mass-produce 2-nm ones in 2025. Rising geopolitical risks have increased the need for companies to secure their own manufacturing capacity of advanced chips, which is dominated by Taiwanese entities now. Japan and the U.S. have agreed to cooperate in research and development in next-generation fields. The government in Tokyo included approximately 350 billion yen for a Japan-U.S. research center in its second supplementary budget for fiscal 2022. The center will be set up by the end of this year and is expected to collaborate with domestic and foreign companies and research institutions. Candidates include IBM and imec, a Belgian research institute.