[News] TSMC’s JASM Kumamoto Plant 2 Greenlit, Construction Expected to Commence by Year’s End

TSMC officially gives the green light to the second fab in Kumamoto, Japan! On January 6th, TSMC, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation (SSS), DENSO Corporation (DENSO), and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) jointly announced further investment in TSMC’s Japanese subsidiary, Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing, Inc. (JASM).


The collaboration is expected to construct JASM’s second fab in Japan, dedicated to the 6/7-nanometer advanced process. The new facility is expected to commence operations by the end of 2027, with a total investment exceeding USD 20 billion, strongly supported by the Japanese government.

TSMC has stated that in this investment venture with JASM, TSMC, SSS, DENSO, and Toyota hold approximately 86.5%, 6.0%, 5.5%, and 2.0% of JASM shares, respectively. Toyota Motor Corporation is a new major shareholder following this capital increase, indicating its potential involvement in automotive electronics initiatives.

TSMC has further indicated that the construction of JASM’s second fab in Japan is set to commence at the end of 2024. The expansion in production capacity is expected to optimize overall cost structure and supply chain efficiency.

With two fabs in Kumamoto, TSMC anticipates in the press release that JASM’s total monthly production capacity will exceed 100,000 12-inch wafers, offering process technologies ranging from 40nm, 22/28nm, 12/16nm, to 6/7nm for automotive, industrial, consumer, and high-performance computing (HPC) applications. Capacity planning may be further adjusted based on customer demand.

For JASM’s first fab, it is planned to commence production by the end of the year. The initial facility, costing USD 8.6 billion, received subsidies of JPY 478 billion (approximately USD 3.23 billion) from the Japanese government.

The primary process of the first fab are 22/28nm and 12/16nm, with a monthly production capacity of around 50,000 12-inch wafers. Located in Kikuyo-cho, Kikuyo-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, construction of the facility was announced in November 2021, ground was broken in April 2022, and construction was completed within two years.

JASM’s first fab is set to open on February 24, 2024, with mass production scheduled by the end of the year. The facility is a joint venture between Taiwan and Japan, with TSMC holding the majority of shares, Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (SSMC) of Japan holding approximately 20%, and Toyota Group’s DENSO holding about 10%.

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[News] PS5 Eyes on a Record-Breaking Sales of 25 Million Units This Fiscal Year

Sony’s gaming console, the PlayStation 5, is showing robust sales momentum. According to Reuters, a senior games executive stated that the cumulative sales of PS5 have surpassed 50 million units, and this year’s “Black Friday” sales performance has also set an all-time record.

The entertainment giant is now counting on the PS5 to continue its strong performance during the year-end shopping season, aiming to achieve the record-breaking goal of 25 million units sold by the end of this fiscal year in March.

Eric Lempel, Senior Vice President for Global Marketing, Sales, and Business Operations at Sony Interactive Entertainment stated as follows, “Given the momentum we’ve had in November and a lot of what we’re seeing in December, just in general we’re feeling very good about sales overall.”

Lempel further indicated in an interview that, “We’ve done some good promotions this year. I will say we’ve done fewer promotions at this stage of the lifecycle than we ever have in the history of the company.”

Despite recent discussions in the gaming industry focusing on the future of gaming consoles due to advancements in cloud technology, freeing games from reliance on bulky hardware, current gaming consoles continue to attract players.

In the initial release phase, the PS5 faced challenges due to disruptions in the supply chain, impacting sales. Nevertheless, this issue has since eased, and the positive reception of the game “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2,” launched on October 20th, is contributing to the increased momentum in the sales of this gaming console.

In the coming months, key games like “The Last of Us Part II Remake” and the timed exclusive “Final Fantasy VII: Remake” will be sequentially released on the PlayStation platform in January and February.

As for Sony’s competitor, Nintendo’s Switch console, despite being on the market for several years, has maintained strong sales this year, driven by the release of new games such as “The Legend of Zelda” series.

(Photo credit: Sony)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters


[News] TSMC’s Kumamoto Plant Production Capacity Set for Significant Leap, Gradually Increasing to 55,000 Wafers per Month

The new chip plant in Kumamoto, Japan, operated by Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), a joint venture between Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), Sony, and Denso, is poised for substantial capacity growth.

JASM President Yuichi Horita revealed that after commencing production in the fourth quarter of 2024, the plant’s production capacity will gradually ramp up, targeting a full capacity of 55,000 12-inch wafers per month.

Simultaneously, TSMC aims to enhance Japan’s semiconductor supply chain and ecosystem, looking to a 60% local contribution by 2030, a significant increase from the current 25%.

Yuichi Horita unveiled the latest plan for TSMC’s Kumamoto plant during his speech at the SEMICON Japan. He emphasized that TSMC’s Kumamoto plant is actively working to establish a local supply chain and ecosystem in Japan.

The current proportion of equipment and materials sourced from Japan for the Kumamoto plant is approximately 25%. The goal is to increase this to 50% by 2026 and achieve 60% by 2030. The progress in constructing production capacity, trial production, and mass production is in line with the original plan.

Yuichi Horita stated that the current workforce at the Kumamoto facility stands at 1,700 employees. Among them, around 600 are dispatched by TSMC and Sony, with the remaining being newly recruited staff.

The production capacity of the new Kumamoto plant primarily focuses on 28/22 nanometers and 16/12 nanometers. In the initial phase, the majority of the capacity is allocated to the manufacturing of Image Signal Processor (ISP) used in CMOS image sensors, as part of Sony’s outsourcing.

The remaining capacity is dedicated to automotive parts supplier Denso, where they outsource the production of automotive microcontroller unit (MCU), with Denso reportedly able to obtain approximately 10,000 wafers per month.

Reportedly, in industry analysis, although Japan’s recent performance in foundry has not matched that of Taiwan, South Korea, and China, Japan’s semiconductor equipment supply chain is already quite mature and comprehensive.

Major players in the field, such as Nikon in lithography equipment, and Hitachi High-Tech, renowned for etching equipment and critical dimension scanning electron microscopy (CD-SEM), have established dominance.

Additionally, Japanese companies specializing in chemical solutions, gases, and materials have also secured significant positions. All of these factors make them crucial partners for supporting the development of TSMC’s Kumamoto plant in the future.

Industry source suggests that in the future, the Japanese government will not only continue to subsidize semiconductor manufacturing but also strengthen collaboration between the semiconductor industry and academia to attract more talent into the semiconductor industry.

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(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from UDN.


[News] Prior to iPhone15 Launch, Haitong Securities Lowers Shipment Estimate

According to a report by Taiwan’s Commercial Times, China’s Haitong Securities has taken the lead in reducing shipment expectations before Apple’s upcoming new product launch next month. The company has lowered the shipment forecast from the initial 83 million units to 77 million units, marking a decrease of 6 million units.

Industry experts point out that lackluster demand in the end market and challenges in the manufacturing process are the main reasons behind the market’s growing skepticism towards iPhone 15 shipment numbers.

Haitong Securities indicates that Apple’s iPhone 15 shipment volume could be revised down to 77 million units. This is primarily due to lower-than-expected yield rates for the CMOS image sensors (CIS) provided by Sony for the periscope lenses. The production bottleneck for iPhone 15 and Plus models is Sony’s 3-layer CIS structure (PD/TX + pixel + ISP), leading to subpar production yields.

Industry experts also mention that the high difficulty in producing the titanium metal frame is attributed to the differing coefficients of thermal expansion between titanium and aluminum. However, this issue can be managed by increasing Foxconn’s production capacity.

The LIPO (Low Injection Pressure Overmolding) screen, on the other hand, faces low yield rates from LG and will need Samsung’s support. Nonetheless, the supply situation for these two components should reach a controlled stage.

Industry sources believe that delays in production for iPhone 15 stem from Sony’s lens sensors, the new titanium alloy frame, and the 1.55mm narrow border screen. However, the primary reason for Apple’s adjustment of iPhone 15’s sales target remains concerns over demand. Both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to come with higher price tags, potentially dampening consumer willingness to purchase. The decision to trim production plans prior to the new phone’s release warrants close attention to whether it garners consumer acceptance after hitting the market.


[News] Sony Hints at Modest Demand for iPhone 15

Sony, a major supplier of Apple’s camera sensors, suggests weaker demand for the upcoming iPhone 15 due to a lackluster year for Apple’s iPhone sales. Economic challenges have affected iPhone sales, though service revenues have offset losses. The flagship iPhone 15 series is scheduled for a September release.

Sony the world’s largest sensor supplier, had previously projected a gradual recovery in its smartphone imaging and sensing business by the second half of 2023. However, during its latest earnings call, the company revealed that this recovery might not take shape until 2024, mainly attributing the delay to underwhelming sales in the Chinese market.

Sadahiko Hayakawa, Sony’s Senior General Manager of Finance, stated, “The recovery pace of the Chinese smartphone market has been slower than our expectations, and the situation in the US market is worsening. We originally anticipated the smartphone market to recover starting from the second half of this fiscal year, but our current assessment suggests that it might not happen until at least next year.”

Sony’s top brass attribute a cautious outlook to a sluggish global economy and geopolitical uncertainties, hinting at muted demand for the iPhone 15 series. This stance resonates with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo view at TFI Securities, forecasting that iPhone 15 might struggle to surpass iPhone 14 sales records, posing challenges to Apple’s suppliers in H2 2023.

Apple reported a 2.4% decline in iPhone sales for its third fiscal quarter, reaching $39.7 billion, slightly below analyst estimates of $39.9 billion. The US region saw a 5.6% year-on-year drop in sales, highlighting a performance that falls short of expectations.


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