HomeMost PopularIBM's Collaboration With Rapidus Set to Ignite Japan's Semiconductor Industry

IBM’s Collaboration With Rapidus Set to Ignite Japan’s Semiconductor Industry

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IBM’s partnership with Rapidus, a chip venture based in Japan, is expected to have a significant impact on the country’s semiconductor industry. Rapidus plans to manufacture 2nm logic chips developed by IBM through a chip licensing agreement in late 2022. This collaboration comes on the heels of IBM’s recent breakthrough in semiconductor design, with the development of the world’s first 2nm nanosheet technology. The new chip is projected to offer better performance and improved energy efficiency compared to leading 7nm chips.

Rapidus, backed by major Japanese companies such as NTT, NEC, Kioxia, Sony, Softbank, Denso, Toyota, and MUFG Bank, aims to set up a prototype production line for cutting-edge 2nm semiconductors by the first half of 2025. To achieve this, Rapidus has partnered with IMEC, a microelectronics research hub based in Belgium. This collaboration will help advance their semiconductor technologies.

Japan’s semiconductor industry is also witnessing advancements from major players such as Samsung, TSMC, and Intel. Samsung plans to introduce its second-generation 3-nm chips in 2023 and mass produce 2-nm GAA-based chips by 2025. TSMC is also embracing GAA transistors and aims to transition its 2nm GAA process into production by 2025. Similarly, Intel is preparing to adopt GAA technology in its semiconductor manufacturing process at the 2-nm node, with a target launch date of mid-2024.

This collaboration between Rapidus and IBM Research is expected to revitalize Japan’s semiconductor industry and position IBM as a key player in the chip sector. IBM Research, known for its innovative breakthroughs, has a history of contributions to the semiconductor industry. Rapidus’ ambitious plans, along with IBM’s expertise, have the potential to significantly impact the semiconductor landscape.

Japan’s Semiconductor Industry in 2023

Japan’s semiconductor industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent decades. In the early 2000s, the country faced challenges in transitioning from vertically integrated semiconductor firms to a more specialized model focused on chip design or manufacturing. Japan’s share of the global semiconductor market has declined sharply from nearly 40% in 1986 to just 8.4% in 2022. This decline reflects the changing dynamics and competition in the global semiconductor market.

Investor Takeaway

In 2022, IBM allocated $6.57 billion towards research, development, and engineering, demonstrating its commitment to innovation. IBM’s ongoing initiatives in hybrid cloud solutions, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and quantum computing reflect its dedication to advancing transformative technologies.

The introduction of Japan’s “Chips Act” and the government’s significant funding for domestic semiconductor investment highlight Japan’s determination to revitalize its semiconductor manufacturing industry. TSMC’s decision to build a chip plant in Japan, with support from Sony Group Corp and Denso Corp, further emphasizes Japan’s commitment to becoming a leader in advanced semiconductor manufacturing. Rapidus’ collaboration with IBM and the substantial investments from both parties will play a crucial role in achieving this goal.

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