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TSMC to open Japan’s most advanced semiconductor production facility in February

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TSMC is set to host a formal opening ceremony for its first fab in Japan, scheduled for February 24, 2024, China Times reports citing Japanese media sources. The semiconductor production facility will be capable of making chips using TSMC’s N28 (28nm-class) technologies and will be the most advanced logic fab in the Land of the Rising Sun.

TSMC’s Japanese fab will be located near Kumamoto, a city on the Japanese island of Kyushu. The semiconductor manufacturing facility is set to process wafers using a variety of production nodes derived from the company’s N28 (28nm-class) technology. This includes several N28 variants and the 22ULP fabrication process, a specialty node for ultra-low-power applications. While these manufacturing technologies are too outdated for use in advanced system-on-chips (SoCs) for smartphones or PCs, as well as high-performance CPUs or GPUs, they are adequately suited for components used in the automotive and consumer electronics sectors. There remains a lot of demand for such processors in Japan with its multitude of sizable companies operating in these sectors.

These technologies are expected to remain relevant for an extended period, given the long lifecycle of many integrated circuits (ICs). TSMC now plans to host a formal opening ceremony on February 24 and the fab will start producing chips in the second half of 2024, as planned. It is rumored that eventually, TSMC will build another fab in Japan that will be capable of processing wafers using TSMC’s N16-derived process technologies, which include N16, N12, and N12e, which belong to 16nm and 12nm classes.

The fab will employ approximately 1,700 people when fully operational. Currently, the facility has about 1,400 employees and 250 new graduates are expected to join in the spring of 2024, according to China Times.

TSMC — the world’s No.1 contract maker of chips — is expanding its operations beyond Taiwan, driven both by a surge in chip demand and influenced by the current geopolitical landscape. In Japan, the company is building up its fab in collaboration with Sony. The monthly production capacity of the fab near Kumamoto is set to be 45,000 wafer starts per month and the initial investment in the fab was set to be $7 billion, with the Japanese government subsidizing the project. The final cost is unknown though.

TSMC is also in the process of setting up a research and development center in Japan and is engaged in various collaborative projects with the University of Tokyo.

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