Japan’s government ramps up Rapidus semiconductor support

New semiconductor maker Rapidus to receive US$1.9 billion boost for new factory in Hokkaido

26 April 2023 | Staff Writers (Image: Vishnu Mohanan)

Japan’s NHK World reports the nation’s government will provide a second round of funding to semiconductor company Rapidus, established in August 2022 with the support of eight major Japanese companies: Denso, Kioxia, MUFG Bank, NEC, NTT, SoftBank, Sony and Toyota.

In announcing the ¥260 billion (US$1.9 billion) assistance package, Industry Minister, Nishimura Yasutoshi, says, “Rapidus is a project that symbolizes cooperation among Japan, the US, and European countries in the field of semiconductors.”

The money will be spent mainly on a production line in a new factory in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido. In a statement to company says, “Rapidus has also started dispatching its researchers to the Albany Nanotech complex in New York, one of the world’s most advanced semiconductor research facilities, and has begun research and development in collaboration with IBM. Through these measures, it will develop 2-nanometer (nm) node technology, build a short TAT pilot line in Japan, and conduct verification tests using test chips.

“Through international collaboration with IBM, imec, and other entities, Rapidus will promote the development of advanced logic semiconductor technology and construct its state-of-the-art plant in Chitose City, and once the research period is concluded, it will aim to commercialize the results as an advanced logic foundry.

It plans to build a trial line in 2025, aiming for mass production around 2027, its leading-edge chips will target new high technology applications including self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence.

The ministry earlier provided financial support of ¥70 billion (US$522 million) the total government investment is now ¥330 billion (US$2.5 billion). The total investment of its eight start-up shareholding companies was ¥7.3 billion ($US54 million), it is anticipated the company will require ¥5 trillion ($US37.4 billion) in funds to reach mass production in 2027.

In the 1980s Japan enjoyed almost a 50 percent share of the global semi-conductor market, its share is now below 10 percent in a market is dominated by Taiwan which has captured over 66 percent of global share.