[News] Rumored to Build Third Plant in Kumamoto, TSMC: Currently Focusing on Assessing the Construction of a Second Plant

According to Bloomberg’ report, TSMC is contemplating the construction of its third wafer fabrication plant in Kumamoto, Japan, focusing on the 3-nanometer manufacturing process. This move could position Japan as a global hub for semiconductor manufacturing.

After being inquired by Taiwan’s media, Economic Daily News, TSMC responded on November 21 to these rumors, stating that the expansion of the company’s global manufacturing footprint is driven by factors such as customer demand, business opportunities, operational efficiency, government support, and economic considerations.

In the response, TSMC also mentioned that it continues to make necessary investments to support customer needs and address the structural growth in semiconductor technology’s long-term demand. Currently, the company is actively evaluating the possibility of establishing a second wafer fabrication plant in Japan, with no additional information available for sharing.

Bloomberg reports that TSMC has informed its supply chain partners about considering the construction of a third plant in Kumamoto, codenamed ” TSMC Fab-23 Phase 3,” but the commencement date remains uncertain.

Analyst Joanne Chiao from TrendForce points 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.

In addition to TSMC, Japan has successfully attracted investments from Micron, Samsung, and Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (PSMC). Japanese government is also assisting the local Rapidus in constructing a 2-nanometer chip plant in Hokkaido.

TSMC’s current overseas facility receiving the largest subsidy is its first new plant in Kumamoto, Japan. TSMC holds the majority of shares in the Kumamoto plant and collaborates with customers and Japanese officials through joint ventures with Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation and DENSO Corporation, investing in the plant’s subsidiary, JASM. The plant is set to enter mass production by the end of 2024, producing chips in 22/28-nanometer and 12/16-nanometer processes.

Due to strong support from Japanese authorities, TSMC’s capital expenditure for its first new plant in Kumamoto has increased from $7 billion to $8.6 billion. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry approved a subsidy of JPY 476 billion (approximately USD 3.5 billion) in June of the previous year, translating to 40% of the total capital expenditure of TSMC’s new facility.

Following the confirmation of an expanded subsidy program by Japanese authorities, TSMC is planning to build a second wafer fabrication plant near the first one. Rumors suggest that as early as 2025, TSMC may introduce Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines for production in processes below 7 nanometers.

(Photo credit: TSMC)

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  • [News] TSMC’s Kumamoto Plant Prepares for 2024 Mass Production with 1000+ Employees, Followed by Taiwanese Material Suppliers’ Collaboration
  • [News] Japanese Gov’t Grants TSMC 900B Yen, Kumamoto Fab 2 Announcement Soon


[News] Japanese Gov’t Grants TSMC 900B Yen, Kumamoto Fab 2 Announcement Soon

The formal Japanese government approval marks a substantial financial boost of up to 900 billion yen to aid TSMC in establishing its 2nd fab in Kumamoto. The primary aim is to strengthen Japan’s semiconductor manufacturing capabilities and enhance the overall resilience of the global supply chain.

With subsidy matters settled, TSMC’s formal announcement of the Kumamoto 2nd Fab project is anticipating in the near future, reported by TechNews.

Akira Amari, a Japanese lawmaker and leader of the parliamentary association to promote semiconductor strategy, reveals that Japan is gearing up to allocate a subsidy of up to 900 billion yen for the second-phase expansion of TSMC’s Kumamoto fab. The plan involves transitioning from the 22/28 nm and 12/16 nm processes to the more advanced 7 nm process. Once completed, Japan is anticipated to emerge as the leading semiconductor supply hub globally.

Media reports suggest that the cabinet amendment is expected to allot a total of 1.9 trillion yen for semiconductor subsidies in Japan. Japanese companies are slated to receive 590 billion yen, while TSMC’s second-phase expansion project in Kumamoto is in line for the highest subsidy of 900 billion yen, surpassing the market’s earlier projection of 760 billion yen.

Highlighting the unprecedented nature of this subsidy, Amari underscores the imperative of ensuring companies’ operational profitability. Japan envisions becoming a pivotal player in the semiconductor supply chain. Furthermore, contingent on the development scenario, the government is committed to evaluating subsidy reductions, with a pledge to support various schemes for establishing Japan as a long-term semiconductor hub.

As of now, the construction of TSMC’s first-phase fab in Kumamoto is advancing rapidly, with the total workforce anticipated to surpass a thousand. The team is preparing for a timely production launch in 2024.

Although the Kumamoto fab’s announcement and construction preceded that of the U.S. Arizona fab, set to commence production in 2025, TSMC’s Kumamoto fab is garnering robust support from official Japanese channels and partners including SONY Semiconductor Solutions and Denso. The fab is set to utilize 22/28 nm and 12/16 nm processes, with a total capital expenditure of 8.6 billion USD. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI) granted approval for a subsidy of 476 billion yen in June 2022, which represents approximately 40% of total capital expenditure is supported by the subsidy.

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[News] ROHM’s First SiC Substrate Production in Japan, 8-Inch Substrates Set for 2024

During an earnings call in November 2023, Isao Matsumoto, President of ROHM Semiconductor, disclosed the company’s plans to the production of 8-inch SiC substrates at its second plant in Miyazaki, Japan, starting in 2024. This is the first time ROHM will produce SiC substrates in Japan.

Notably, the Miyazaki Plant No.2 Project is part of ROHM’s ongoing capacity expansion strategy. The company intends to invest between 170 and 220 billion yen in its SiC business from 2021 to 2025.

For SiC power semiconductor manufacturers like ROHM, it’s imperative to bolster their SiC substrate production capacity. This is driven by two key factors. Firstly, there has been a shortage of substrate materials, which has posed a challenge for the SiC power semiconductor industry. Secondly, the growing wave of electric vehicles has led to an increased demand for SiC power semiconductors.

To thrive in the SiC power semiconductor industry and capture a big market share, major companies are actively investing in expanding their production capacity. They often choose to form supply agreements with suppliers, set up their own production lines, or acquire related businesses.

ROHM previously established a pioneering position in the industry by producing SiC substrates at its plant in Nuremberg, Germany, following the acquisition of SiCrystal, a German SiC substrate manufacturer.

The Miyazaki plant no.2, scheduled to start production in 2024, was originally the Kunitomi plant of Solar Frontier, a subsidiary of Idemitsu Kosan. In July of this year, ROHM announced its acquisition of the assets of Solar Frontier’s former Kunitomi plant, a deal that concluded in October. It’s worth noting that this plant will become ROHM’s largest SiC power semiconductor production hub in Japan.

While pursuing acquisitions, ROHM is also actively expanding its in-house production capacity. According to information on ROHM’s official website, the company currently operates four SiC power semiconductor production plants in Japan, located at its Kyoto headquarters, Chikugo Plant in Fukuoka, Nagahama Plant in Fukuoka, and Miyazaki plant no.1.

Both acquisitions and in-house production strategies help ensure a reliable product supply. However, in the dynamic SiC industry, forward-thinking leaders are eager to secure additional production capacity in advance. Collaboration with established manufacturers is a common approach, and ROHM is no exception.

In June of this year, ROHM signed a long-term supply partnership agreement for SiC power devices with Vitesco. According to this agreement, the combined transactions between the two companies from 2024 to 2030 will exceed 130 billion yen.
(Image: ROHM)


TrendForce Foresees China’s Mature Wafer Processes to Expand to 33% by 2027, Japan Secures Advanced Processes

The research institution TrendForce held its AnnualForecast 2024 Seminar on November 3, where they delved into discussions about global wafer foundry trends, the applications of AI, the dynamics of AI servers, and the demand for High Bandwidth Memory (HBM).

Joanne Chiao, analyst from TrendForce, observed that while AI servers have experienced robust growth over the past two years, AI chips account for just 4% of wafer consumption, limiting their impact on the overall wafer industry. Nevertheless, both advanced and mature processes offer business opportunities. The former benefits from the desire of companies like CSPs to develop customized chips, leading them to seek the assistance of design service providers; while the latter can consider venturing into sector such as power management ICs and I/O solutions.

Persisting US export restrictions continue to affect China’s foundries, causing delays in their expansion plans. Furthermore, the regionalisation of wafer foundry services is exacerbating issues related to uneven resource distribution.

Due to lackluster end-market demand and fierce market competition, the capacity utilization rate of 8-inch wafer foundries continue to decline until the first quarter of the upcoming year. Inventory adjustments are underway in the fields of industrial control and automotive electronics. Chinese foundries are more willing to offer competitive prices, and outperforming their counterparts in Taiwan and Korea in terms of order performance.

In the realm of 12-inch wafer foundry services, success relies on technological leadership and exclusivity. Competition isn’t as intense as it is with 8-inch wafers. This resurgence is driven by inventory replenishment, the demand for iPhone 15, select Android smartphone brands, and the need for AI chips. A moderate recovery is expected in the latter part of this year.

TrendForce indicates that, with the expansion of processes beyond 28nm, mature process capacity is expected to occupy less than 70% of the capacity of the top ten foundries by 2027. Under the pressure to transition towards mature processes, China is anticipated to account for 33% of mature process capacity by 2027, with the possibility of further increases.

It’s noteworthy that Japan is actively promoting the revival of its semiconductor industry and, through incentives for foreign companies establishing fabs, may secure 3% of advanced process capacity.

TrendForce’s analyst, Frank Kung, predicts that the shipment of Nvidia’s high-end GPU processors will exceed 1.5 million units this year, with a YoY growth rate of over 70%, expected to reach 90% by 2024. Starting from the latter half of this year, Nvidia’s high-end GPU market will transition primarily to H100. As for AMD, its high-end AI solutions are mainly targeted at CSPs and supercomputers. The AI server market, equipped with MI300, is expected to experience significant expansion in the latter half of this year.

In the 2023-2024 period, major CSPs are poised to become the primary drivers of AI server demand, with Microsoft, Google, and AWS ranking among the top three. Additionally, the robust demand for cloud-based AI training is expected to propel the growth of advanced AI chips, which may, in turn, stimulate growth in power management or high-speed transmission-related ICs in the future.

Lastly, concerning HBM, TrendForce’s senior research vice president, Avril Wu, mentioned that as Nvidia’s H100 gradually gains momentum, HBM3 is set to become the industry standard in the latter half of this year. With the launch of B100 next year, HBM3e is poised to replace HBM3 as the mainstream memory in the latter half of the following year. Overall, HBM plays a pivotal role in DRAM revenue, with expectations of an increase from 9% in 2023 to 18% in 2024, potentially leading to higher DRAM prices in the coming year.
(Image: TechNews)


[News] TSMC’s Kumamoto Plant Prepares for 2024 Mass Production with 1000+ Employees, Followed by Taiwanese Material Suppliers’ Collaboration

TSMC’s new plant in Kumamoto, Japan, is bustling. With more than a thousand employees hard at work, it is on track to commence mass production in 2024. This venture signifies TSMC’s commitment to meet customer demands and navigate geopolitical challenges by expanding its overseas production capabilities.

According to a report by Economic Daily, industry sources reveal that TSMC’s Kumamoto plant is making significant progress in terms of staffing. In August 2023, Taiwanese engineers arrived in Japan accompanied by their families. Simultaneously, locally recruited engineers have completed training and are being deployed to the Kumamoto plant in preparation for the 2024 production.

Notably, TSMC’s Kumamoto plant has successfully trained its workforce. When combined with local employees, the facility now boasts a workforce exceeding a thousand. For the latest Kumamoto plant updates, TSMC assures to refer to the information shared during the October 3Q23 earning conference.

In the prior conference, TSMC disclosed its construction of a cutting-edge wafer fab in Japan. This fab will employ 12/16 nm and 22/28 nm process technologies. TSMC has hired around 800 local employees, most of whom have gained valuable experience in Taiwan. Equipment installation began this month, and mass production is expected by late 2024 if all goes according to schedule.

TSMC’s Kumamoto plant is strongly supported by the Japanese government, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, Denso, and other partners. The plant’s total capital expenditure is $8.6 billion, and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry approved a subsidy of 476 billion yen (about US$3.5 billion) in June, covering around 40% of the total Japanese subsidy amount.

The Japanese government is optimistic about TSMC introducing EUV lithography equipment for advanced process mass production in future plants. To secure TSMC’s expansion of the Kumamoto Plant, the government is intensifying its support, with discussions suggesting subsidies of up to 900 billion yen (about US$6.03 billion). This increase underscores Japan’s commitment to boosting domestic semiconductor production value, aligning with their 2030 goal. Companies like TSC, WAHLEE, and MA-tek are poised to expand in pursuit of this goal.

TSC established Shunkawa Co., Ltd. in Japan in 2022 and opened a Kumamoto office in August this year. TSC plans to closely monitor the evolution of new semiconductor plants and explore expansion opportunities in regions such as Tohoku and Hokkaido. Additionally, WAHLEE, a materials distributor, is actively partnering with original equipment manufacturers and Japanese trading companies to tap into the Japanese market.

(Image: TSMC)

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