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Japan’s New Semiconductor Foundry Rapidus Taps IBM For 2nm Process

Japan’s New Semiconductor Foundry Rapidus Taps IBM For 2nm Process

  • Categories:News
  • Time of issue:2022-12-14 10:28
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(Summary description)

Japan’s New Semiconductor Foundry Rapidus Taps IBM For 2nm Process

(Summary description)

  • Categories:News
  • Time of issue:2022-12-14 10:28
  • Views:
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A clean room at the Albany NanoTech Complex  IBM RESEARCH

Japan wants to get back into the leading-edge semiconductor business and very recently a new company was formed to reboot its semiconductor industry. The company is named Rapidus, referring to rapid production of new chips, a clear reference to how the company plans to differentiate its business from other foundries such as TSMC, Samsung, and Intel. The company has announced a partnership with IBM Research to develop IBM’s 2nm technology in fabs that Rapidus plans to build in Japan during the second part of this decade. Previously, Rapidus announced a collaboration with the Belgium-based microelectronics research hub IMEC on advanced semiconductor technologies. Imec is collaborative semiconductor research organization working the world’s major foundries, IDMs, fabless and fablite companies, material and tool suppliers, EDA companies and application developers.

The IBM process uses gate-all-around transistors - IBM refers to them as nano sheet FETs - which is the next generation of transistor design that enables device scaling beyond today’s FinFETs. The 2nm structures will require Rapidus to use ASML’s EUV manufacturing equipment. Business details with IBM were not disclosed, but there’s likely two parts to the deal: a cross-licensing agreement for the intellectual property necessary to build the product and a joint development agreement. While the announcement is nominally for IBM’s 2nm process, it likely includes a long-term commitment to build advanced semiconductor chips going beyond the 2nm process node.

Rapidus was formed by semiconductor veterans such as Rapidus President Atsuyoshi Koike, with backing by leading Japanese technology and financial firms, including Denso, Kioxia, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, NEC, NTT, Softbank, Sony, and Toyota Motor. The Japanese government is also subsidizing Rapidus. The big change for Japan compared to prior national efforts is the collaboration with international organizations. It’s a recognition Japan cannot go it alone. This appears to be a fundamental change in Japanese attitudes. Building a fab in Japan will be helped by Japan’s strong manufacturing ecosystem of materials, equipment, and engineering talent.

Dario Gil, IBM’s SVP and Director of Research, announced this news alongside Rapidus executives at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday morning. Rapidus will send engineers to learn the 2nm process to the IBM Research lab located in the Albany, NY NanoTech Complex to work alongside IBM Research engineers. IBM Research already has an extensive research group in Japan. This agreement is also a big win for New York State and its “NY CREATES” development agency, who owns and operates the Albany NanoTech Complex. IBM will collaborate with Rapidus on the soon-to-be established Leading-edge Semiconductor Technology Center (LSTC) in Japan. LSTC will be the overall umbrella organization to coordinate the ongoing semiconductor research, while Rapidus will be the manufacturing organization.

This may be the last, best opportunity for Japan to get back into leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing. Japan already consumes a lot of semiconductors with automotive and electronics vendors such as Toyota and Sony, which are investing in Rapidus. Having a leading-edge process manufacturer on Japanese soil will improve logistics for Japanese OEMs and provide additional supply chain security for Japan.

With this announcement, and its long partnership with Samsung, IBM reaffirms its role as a global resource for semiconductor research and development. With IBM’s help, Rapidus can provide a rebirth to the Japanese semiconductor industry and help diversify world-wide advanced semiconductor manufacturing. TIRIAS Research views the coordinated and cooperative actions of IBM, IMEC, and Rapidus/LSTC as an opportunity to realign global semiconductor manufacturing with more regional balance.

Source:Forbes

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