[News] ROHM Eyes R&D Expansion in Power Semiconductor Production Venture with Toshiba

2023-12-19 Semiconductors editor

With a financial boost from the Japanese government, electronic giants ROHM and Toshiba are joining forces in the power semiconductor industry. Collaboratively, they plan to not only enhance production but also delve into the realm of research and development, aiming to expand the capacities for Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Silicon (Si) power semiconductors.

In a joint announcement on December 8th, ROHM and Toshiba revealed their strategic collaboration in power semiconductor ventures, pooling a substantial investment totaling 388.3 billion Japanese Yen (ROHM: 289.2 billion JPY, Toshiba: 99.1 billion JPY). This capital injection aims to boost the capacities for SiC semiconductors, Si power semiconductors, and SiC wafers. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is set to provide a generous subsidy, reaching up to 129.4 billion Japanese Yen for this collaborative venture.

Power semiconductors stand as the key necessity for energy-efficiency in electric vehicles (EVs) and industrial equipment. With a surge in global demand, ROHM concentrates its investment in SiC semiconductors, while Toshiba focuses on Si power semiconductors. The overarching objective is to elevate international competitiveness by fostering a robust collaborative manufacturing alliance.

As per report by the Japan Times, ROHM and Toshiba are embarking on a reciprocal production arrangement for power semiconductors. Toshiba leans significantly on ROHM for SiC semiconductor production, while ROHM entrusts Toshiba with the manufacturing of selected Si power semiconductors. The construction of Toshiba’s new plant in Nomi, Ishikawa Prefecture, sets the stage for Si power semiconductor supply commencing in March 2025. Meanwhile, ROHM’s new plant in Kunitomi, Miyazaki Prefecture, gears up to deliver SiC power semiconductors starting from April 2026.

Both two companies set up their goals in terms of future expansion in capacity. Toshiba envisions expanding power semiconductor capacity to 2.5 times that of the 2021 fiscal year by the 2024 fiscal year. Simultaneously, ROHM aims to elevate SiC power semiconductor capacity to 6.5 times that of the 2021 fiscal year by the 2025 fiscal year, with further expansions to 35 times by the 2030 fiscal year.

ROHM President and CEO, Isao Matsumoto, also shared the insights aiming the collaboration. In an interview with Nikkei Asia released on December 16th, Matsumoto expressed the company’s aspirations to broaden its power semiconductor collaboration with Toshiba, extending beyond production into the research and development.

Matsumoto stated that both companies aim to “discuss collaboration in development” after the launch of the joint production of power devices announced previously.

Matsumoto also emphasized that they will commence with commissioned production, and implied the possibility to enter the next stage. Looking ahead, He hope to explore collaboration involving engineer exchanges and development. When probed about the possibility of this collaboration leading to future business integration, he responded there is not definitive decision by now.

Kyodo News underscored that while Japanese firms have a significant presence in the global power semiconductor market, they often trail behind their European and American competitors, holding a market share in the 20% range. As a result, it is an urgent priority for Japanese firms to enhance international competitiveness, expand scale, and improve efficiency. This collaboration between ROHM and Toshiba is poised to serve as a catalyst for expediting the collaboration of other Japanese firms.

Please note that this article cites information from the Japan TimesNikkei Asia, and Kyodo News.

(Image: ROHM)