Rapidus, a Japanese government-backed chipmaker, intends to launch a prototype 2nm silicon production line in the first half of 2025. The company’s management announced this on Tuesday, January 24,
These deadlines must be met if Rapidus is to start mass production in the latter 2020s. Rapidus will be able to catch up with Taiwanese TSMC in technology if the necessary tasks are completed. The company plans to begin full-scale production using 2nm technology by 2025. Rapidus will choose a location for construction by March this year. In the future, mass production of 2nm chip will also be conducted there. A stable water supply and an electrical infrastructure are essential for the location to be able to attract local and international workers.
According to Nikkei Asian ReviewThe production of 2-nm semiconductors, which will be used in AI development and supercomputing, is planned. It is difficult to establish production according to the new process technology. This requires the use of a different architecture than that used in products 12- or 28-nm in size. TSMC plans on starting production at a new plant in Japan in 2024.
Rapidus claims that the company needs to invest approximately $ 15 million to begin production and one and half times more in order to scale up production. Rapidus claims to assist customers in chip development and manufacturing process optimization to cut down on lead times for finished products. This is expected to give Rapidus an edge over TSMC Electronics and Samsung Electronics which produce many different products in large quantities. Rapidus on the other hand plans to release only advanced and high-margin options.
The company signed a licensing deal with IBM at the end of 2022. IBM released a prototype 2nm memory cell in 2021. Japan’s venture will soon send staff to the US to learn the basics of 2nm manufacturing. This will be a huge undertaking that will require “hundreds” of engineers.
Rapidus investors include Toyota Motor, Sony Group and Denso. They also provided their own specialists in various fields to the company. Leading Japanese companies and the authorities decided to form a joint venture in the semiconductor industry at the end of last fiscal year. Japan is now noticeably behind South Korea or Taiwan in this area, whereas it was once the market leader in the chip industry.