[News] TSMC Reportedly Announcing Kumamoto Plant 2 in Japan, while U.S. Subsidies Expected by End of March

While TSMC is pushing forward with its 2nm fab in Taiwan, there is also good news about its overseas expansion. According to the Japanese newspaper “Kumanichi,” TSMC is expected to announce the construction of its Kumamoto Fab 2 in Japan on February 6, with the possibility of incorporating the 7nm process. Additionally, the United States is also expected to provide several billion dollars in subsidies to TSMC’s new fab by the end of March.

▲ TSMC’s Layout of Global Production Capacity Edited by TrendForce, January, 2024

Per the report from the ” Kumanichi,” Japan’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Tetsushi Sakamoto, who hails from Kumamoto, stated during a local meeting on January 28th that TSMC is evaluating Kumamoto Prefecture’s Kikuyo Town as the location for its second fab. The announcement of the site for Fab 2 in Kumamoto is expected to be made as early as February 6th.

The report further indicates that Fab 2 is expected to be situated next to the first fab, which was completed at the end of last year. TSMC had previously mentioned that if a second fab were to be constructed, it would be located in the vicinity of the existing facility under construction.

Regarding the rumors, the spokesperson for TSMC stated that the expansion strategy of TSMC’s global manufacturing footprint is based on considerations of customer demand, business opportunities, operational efficiency, government support, and economic costs.

Through necessary investments, TSMC continues to support customer demands and respond to the structural growth of semiconductor technology in the long term. “We are currently focusing on evaluating the possibility of setting up a second fab in Japan, and there is no further information to share at the moment.”

During the recent earnings call, Mark Liu also mentioned that the plan for TSMC’s second fab in Japan is still under evaluation. However, he hinted at the possibility of adopting the 7-nanometer process.

TSMC’s Kumamoto plant is scheduled to hold its opening ceremony on February 24th. After retiring following the shareholders’ meeting in June this year, TSMC Chairman Mark Liu, along with the designated successor and current President C.C.Wei, will lead several top executives to Japan for the event. TSMC has also invited Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to attend.

The decision for TSMC to establish a plant in Kumamoto, Japan, was announced in October 2021, and construction began in 2022. In comparison to TSMC’s announcement of a plant in the United States in 2020, which faced delays and is set to commence production in 2025, the Japanese plant has advanced more swiftly.

This aligns with TSMC founder Morris Chang’s statement last year that Japan is considered an ideal location for establishing a semiconductor supply chain.

Analyst Joanne Chiao from TrendForce previously pointed out that Japan’s expertise in materials and machinery is one of the factors attracting TSMC’s expansion. Japan stands to benefit from TSMC’s establishment as the pace of creating a local semiconductor ecosystem by Japanese government surpasses that of the U.S. government.

On the other hand, despite TSMC delaying the production at its new US plant, according to Bloomberg, the United States plans to announce substantial chip subsidies by the end of March. The aim is to pave the way for chip manufacturers like TSMC and Intel by providing them with billions of dollars to accelerate the expansion of domestic chip production.

These subsidies are a core component of the US 2022 “CHIPS and Science Act,” which allocates a budget of USD 39 billion to directly subsidize and revitalize American manufacturing.

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(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from Kumanichi and Bloomberg.


[News] Completion of TSMC’s Kumamoto Plant, Grand Opening on 2/24

TSMC’s foundry in Kumamoto, Japan, has been completed. Currently, the tool-in is underway, with a grand opening ceremony scheduled for February 24th, 2024.

Following this, trial production will commence, with mass production expected by the year-end. The Taiwanese semiconductor supply chain is optimistic about TSMC’s continued investment in local facilities, with plans for establishing service points in Japan.

According to reports from Japanese news source Kyodo News, TSMC’s Kumamoto plant is operated by its Japanese subsidiary, Jasm. Construction commenced in April 2022, with a 24-hour rush to completion. The office building facilities were inaugurated in August 2023, and the four-story, two-basement fab was also completed by the end of last year. The cleanroom’s total area, where production takes place, is approximately 45,000 square meters.

After the grand opening ceremony of TSMC’s Kumamoto plant, trial production will begin, with mass production scheduled by the end of this year. The plant aims to produce 22/28nm and 12/16nm process chips, targeting a monthly capacity of 55,000 wafers. Joint venture partners at the facility include Sony’s subsidiary Sony Semiconductor Solutions and Denso.

According to Japanese media Nikkei Asia, TSMC is currently assessing the construction of a second plant in Kumamoto. The estimated total investment for this new facility is around JPY 2 trillion, and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is considering a subsidy of approximately JPY 900 billion, surpassing the amount for the first plant. TSMC plans to utilize the Kumamoto Fab 2 for the production of 6nm chips. There is potential for further investment in a third plant in the future.

As per a report from Liberty Times Net, with optimism for TSMC’s opportunities in Japan, Taiwan’s semiconductor supply chain is establishing service points in the country.

Cleanroom and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) integration engineering service provider, Marketech International Corp., has set up a subsidiary in Japan to cater to major clients. Topco Scientific Co. has established SHUNKAWA CO., LTD. in Japan and a branch in Kumamoto to offer specialized chemical warehouse services to major clients.

Analytical testing facility, MA-tek, established a lab in Nagoya over four years ago and expanded with a second lab in Kumamoto last September due to increased demand. Following suit, MSSCORPS Co. plans to establish a testing and analytical center in Tokyo, Japan.

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(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from Kyodo NewsNikkei Asia and Liberty Times Net


[News] Japanese Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturer Raises Salaries by 40% to Attract Talent

Japanese semiconductor equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL) is reportedly set to increase the starting monthly salary for new hires by approximately 40%, breaking the JPY 300,000 barrier for the first time (approximately USD 2,121). This move is expected to align the salary level with international counterparts to attract talent.

According to the report from Nikkei Asia, TEL has been consistently raising salaries and bonuses due to its strong business performance. The company will raise the salary for all new hires by JPY 85,500.

Starting in April 2024, the monthly salary for university graduates joining the company will reach JPY 304,800 (USD 2,161), while those with higher qualifications can receive JPY 320,000. This marks the first salary increase for new employees at TEL in seven years.

As per the survey conducted by the Japan’s National Personnel Authority in the spring of 2023, Japanese private companies offer an average starting salary of around JPY 210,000 (approximately USD 1,484) for university graduates, with those holding higher degrees receiving around JPY 230,000. On the other hand, TEL’s financial statement reveals that the company’s average annual salary as of March 2023 is JPY 13.98 million.

Japan has seen a series of significant investments in the semiconductor industry, including TSMC’s entry into Kumamoto, Kyushu. Semiconductor manufacturers are offering high salaries to attract skilled workers, and this trend is prompting chip equipment suppliers to follow suit.

TEL plans to hire approximately 400 new graduates in the spring, an increase of 50 from the previous year, and envisions increasing the number of new employees to 500 within the next few years.

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(Photo credit: TEL)

Please note that this article cites information from Nikkei Asia 


[News] Japan Makes Significant Investment in Semiconductors, Potentially Surpass South Korea Within a Decade

As competition in the semiconductor industry intensifies, countries worldwide are implementing industrial policies to attract domestic and foreign investments. Japan, in particular, has introduced substantial subsidies to entice industry players to invest and establish facilities.

According to the report from South Korean “Dong-a Ilbo,” compared to other nations, South Korea’s semiconductor industry lacks sufficient subsidies, and there are concerns that Japan may surpass South Korea within the next decade.

Given the high cost of advanced semiconductor facility equipment and relatively higher local labor and other costs in Japan compared to other Asian countries, semiconductor companies are making substantial investments, often in the trillions of yen, to set up facilities in Japan.

In an effort to attract foreign companies to establish facilities in Japan, the Japanese government not only promotes the capabilities of numerous domestic semiconductor upstream suppliers to meet supply chain demands but also provides subsidies to alleviate the burden on industry players, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of products manufactured in Japan.

Taking memory giant Micron as an example, reportedly, Micron’s DRAM plant being constructed in Hiroshima, Japan, has received a 39% subsidy from the Japanese government for the construction cost. This subsidy has enhanced its cost competitiveness by 5% to 7%.

With substantial assistance from the Japanese government, there is a potential for Micron to narrow the market share gap with Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix in the future.

In recent years, TSMC has also chosen to establish a plant in Kumamoto, Japan, under the active solicitation of the Japanese government. In June of the previous year, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry announced that TSMC, along with Sony and Denso, jointly investing in Kumamoto Fab 1, could receive a maximum subsidy of JPY 476 billion (approximately USD 3.34 billion), equivalent to half of the construction cost.

The head of the Japanese Semiconductor Strategic Promotion Council, Akira Amari, previously mentioned that the Japanese government would provide one-third of the construction cost as a subsidy for TSMC’s Kumamoto Fab 2.

However, in November of this year, the Japanese Cabinet approved a semiconductor subsidy plan of nearly JPY 2 trillion, deciding to grant a subsidy of JPY 900 billion to TSMC’s Kumamoto Fab 2, exceeding one-third of the construction cost.

As per TrendForce’s report, Japan is also actively supporting local company Rapidus with a goal of reaching the most advanced 2 nm process. They aim to create a semiconductor cluster in Hokkaido and are offering subsidies to foreign companies, including Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM) and PSMC’s Sendai plant (JSMC).

This dual-pronged approach by the Japanese government aims to attract both domestic and foreign semiconductor industry investments in Japan.

While the South Korean parliament expanded tax incentives for semiconductor facility investment in the chip law passed in March of this year, it did not provide direct cash subsidies, raising concerns among industry professionals about the potential overtaking of the South Korean semiconductor industry by Japan.

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(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from Dong-a Ilbo, Nikkei and The Japan Times


[News] Toyota and Other Automakers Reportedly Join Forces for the Development of Advanced Automotive Chips

In a bid to compete with rivals like Tesla, who conduct in-house research and development of advanced chips for automotive applications, Japanese automakers have reportedly established a new organization to collaboratively research and develop advanced automotive chips, integrating their technologies and designs.

According to a report by Nikkei, automakers including Toyota have established a new organization called the “Automotive SoC Research Association” (temporarily referred as ASRA), joining forces to develop advanced chips for applications like autonomous driving.

Established in December in Nagoya, ASRA is set to commence research on SoC products with a process of 10nm or more advanced nodes starting in 2024. In addition to Toyota, other automakers such as Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, and Japanese enterprises including Renesas Electronics and Socionext have also joined the initiative.

According to the report, the trend of automakers intensifying in-house development of automotive chips is growing. The report further indicates that semiconductor giants in the United States, such as NVIDIA and Qualcomm, are also developing high-performance SoCs for automotive use.

Leading electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has opted for in-house development due to dissatisfaction with limited choices, and their self-developed SoCs are already actively deployed in their vehicles.

On the other hand, Chinese automaker NIO, for example, possesses semiconductor research and development teams in both China and the United States. They have successfully developed semiconductor products used for controlling Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology.

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

Please note that this article cites information from Nikkei

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