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Kumamoto fab to start mass production in Q4 as planned: TSMC

02/17/2024 06:08 PM
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TSMC's facility in Kumamoto. Photo: Kyodo News
TSMC's facility in Kumamoto. Photo: Kyodo News

Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) A wafer fab located in Kumamoto, Japan is still set to kick off commercial production in the fourth quarter of this year as planned, contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) said Saturday in response to reports that said mass production was to begin ahead of schedule.

TSMC said in a statement that if everything goes to plan, the chipmaker's first fab in Japan will roll out mass production at the end of the year as planned, using the mature 12 nanometer, 16nm, 22nm, and 28nm processes.

TSMC said the monthly production capacity of the first Kumamoto fab through a joint venture -- Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM) -- is expected to hit 55,000 units of 12-inch wafers.

JASM is currently owned by TSMC and its Japanese business partners, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp. (SSS) and Denso Corp., with the Taiwanese company holding the majority of shares.

TSMC's statement came after a local media report said earlier in the day that because Sony is a major CMOS image sensor supplier to Apple Inc., the American consumer electronics giant had been repeatedly urging JASM to mass produce chips ahead of schedule.

The report said the fab began a trial run before the Lunar New Year holiday after it began installing equipment in October 2022. It said it has been rolling out about 3,000 chips a month and that commercial production was expected to start ahead of schedule.

With the Kumamoto plant slated to open on Feb. 24, the report said TSMC founder Morris Chang (張忠謀), Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Princess Kako will cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony.

According to the report, investment in the Kumamoto plant totaled about 1.1 trillion Japanese yen (US$7.33 billion), and the subsidies provided by the Japanese government accounted for almost half of the investment amount.

On Feb. 6, TSMC announced it and its Japanese partners had decided to build a second wafer fab in Kumamoto and that operations were set to begin at the end of 2027.

Together with the first fab, JASM's overall investment will exceed US$20 billion, TSMC said, adding that it enjoys strong support from the Japanese government.

Following the completion of the two fabs, TSMC said JASM is expected to roll out more than 100,000 12-inch wafers a month, using the mature 40 nanometer, 28nm, 22nm, 16nm, 12nm processes as well as the advanced 7nm and 6nm technologies.

TSMC said JASM's chips will be used in the production of automotive, industrial, consumer and high-performance computing (HPC)-related applications.

According to TSMC, Japanese auto giant Toyota will take a minority stake in the joint venture. The chipmaker said it will hold an 86.5 percent stake in JASM with SSS, Denso, and Toyota owning 6 percent, 5.5 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

In addition to the Kumamoto fab investment, in March 2021, TSMC also set up the TSMC Japan 3DIC R&D Center, a subsidiary located in the Tsukuba Center of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, to develop high-end integrated circuit packaging and testing services and provide one-stop services to clients.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Frances Huang)

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