Japanese government-backed chipmaker Rapidus plans to launch a prototype 2nm semiconductor production line by the first half of 2025. This was announced by the management on Tuesday, January 24th.
The company must meet such deadlines in order to start mass production in the late 2020s. When the relevant tasks are completed, Rapidus will technologically almost catch up with the Taiwanese TSMC, which intends to start serial production of chips in 2nm technology in 2025. By March of this year, Rapidus will decide on a location for the company’s construction, where the mass production of 2nm chips will also be organized in the future. The site requires a stable water supply and electrical infrastructure, as well as the ability to easily attract local and foreign personnel.
After Nikkei Asisan reviewThe plan is to produce 2nm semiconductors that will be used in future AI development and supercomputing. Establishing production according to the new process technology is not a trivial task, since it involves the use of a new architecture, different from, for example, 12 or 28 nm products, which TSMC plans to start as early as 2024 at a new plant in Japan .
Rapidus estimates that the company will need to invest about $15 billion to start production and a factor and a half to start mass production. Rapidus promises to help customers with chip development and manufacturing process optimization to shorten the lead time for finished products, which should be an advantage over TSMC and Samsung Electronics, which simultaneously produce different types of products in large quantities. Rapidus, on the other hand, intends to release only advanced, high-margin options.
At the end of 2022, the company signed a license agreement with IBM, which successfully launched a 2 nm memory cell prototype as early as 2021. The Japanese company will soon send personnel to the US to study the necessary basic technologies, as full-scale 2nm production will require the efforts of “hundreds of engineers”.
Many Rapidus investors, including Toyota Motor, Sony Group, Denso and Kioxia, have provided the company with their own specialists from various fields. At the end of last year, leading Japanese companies decided together with the country’s authorities to set up a semiconductor joint venture. The fact is that Japan, once the leader in the chip market, now lags behind neighbors such as Taiwan or South Korea in this area.