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TSMC considering third fab in Japan, running 3nm tech

The world's biggest semiconductor manufacturer is reportedly mulling a third fab in Japan, and according to people with insight the fab would make 3nm chips.

TSMC has informed its supply chain partners that it is considering building a third factory in Kumamoto Prefecture, named TSMC Fab-23 Phase 3, sources told the Japan Times. TSMC is currently building a fab for less advanced chips in Japan, and plans for a second fab has previously been reported on. It is however unclear when the business would start construction on the third fab.

Evertiq reported recently that Japan's Economy Ministry is preparing a range of subsidies as it attempts to re-establish Japan as a global electronics leader. Media reports state that the country has assigned USD 13 billion to drive investment in its chip industry via a supplementary budget for this fiscal year. 

Japan has seen a number of investments throughout the year as the country is looking to revitalise its semiconductor industry. Japanese semiconductor company Rapidus Corporation recently broke ground on its future IIM-1 plant in Chitose City in Hokkaido, Japan. Soon after, news surfaced that ASML is planning to launch a base in Hokkaido to support the production at Rapidus future semiconductor fab.

As previously reported by TrendForce, Japan hosts a set of advantages in semiconductor upstream equipment and raw materials, and key players in the industry are setting up shop Kyushu, Tohoku, and Hokkaido.

Kyushu has quickly risen to prominence as a semiconductor hotspot, thanks in part to the arrival of JASM (TSMC's Kumamoto Plant). But even prior to TSMC's entrance, Sony and SUMCO, a raw wafer production behemoth, have been working in the region for several years. Furthermore, several small and medium-sized semiconductor-related businesses have established themselves in the region, earning Kyushu the label of "Silicon Island."

If Japan is regarded as a global hub for the manufacturing of semiconductor raw materials, the Tohoku region is its beating heart. This area, enveloping areas around Sendai and Fukushima, is home to the Renesas Yonezawa plant, as well as significant raw wafer producers SUMCO and Shin-Etsu. Tohoku University stands out as noteworthy due to its reputation in semiconductor materials research and a large talent pool.

Taiwanese wafer foundry service provider Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (PSMC) has been looking at five different sites in Japan for a proposed USD 5.4 billion facility, and now the company has found its location – in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. The company said that it would first focus on the 40nm process node, with advanced processes on the horizon. Automotive electronics will be a production priority, adding to Tohoku's semiconductor importance.

Regarding TSMC's potential 3nm fab in Kumamoto, the sources told the Japan Times that it would likely come with a price tag of USD 20 billion, which would include the production equipment. In an emailed statement to the newspaper, the company stated that it is where necessary to support customers' needs, stating further that; "In Japan, we are currently focused on evaluating the possibility of building a second fab and we do not have further information to share at this time.”


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March 01 2024 9:18 am V22.3.47-1