Several major Japanese manufacturers are investing in a new chipmaking venture called Rapidus.
- Investors’ decision to look to this new chip manufacturer continues the trend of the U.S. and its allies decreasing dependence on Chinese chipmaking.
- Investors include Toyota Motor, Sony, SoftBank Group, and two chip companies—Kioxia and Tokyo Electron.
- Most investors have contributed at least $7 million to Rapidus.
- The Japanese government itself is investing nearly $500 million.
- Rapidus should begin producing chips by the end of the decade.
Why it’s news
Earlier this year, U.S. government officials planned a “Chip 4” initiative with several Asian countries including Taiwan and Japan to exclude China from semiconductor tech development.
Japanese companies’ investment in Rapidus is a sign that the “Chip 4” initiative is beginning to take effect. An even greater signal of U.S. influence is IBM’s involvement in the project.
The major U.S. technology company will support Rapidus by providing licensing allowing the company to produce 2 nanometer chips in Japan, Bloomberg reported.
These smaller chips are seen as the future of semiconductors. Last year, IBM released a new chip that the company claimed was the first to use the 2 nanometer technology. This new chip can reportedly perform 45% better than the current commonly used 7 nanometer chips.
Export restrictions on U.S. made semiconductors has slowed China’s progress on more advanced chip technology. Chinese manufacturers have been focusing on older technology, though China’s largest producer, Semiconductor Manufacturing International, claims to have 7 nanometer chips.
Backing up a bit
IBM announced its plans to invest $20 billion in New York’s Hudson Valley area over the next 10 years.
Though the specific investments IBM plans to make haven’t been announced yet, the investment will focus on semiconductors, computers, hybrid cloud, artificial intelligence, and quantum computers.
IBM’s announcement happened during a visit from President Joe Biden who was visiting the company’s Poughkeepsie location.
Biden’s administration has been promoting industrial and technological investment in the U.S.
“Our vision is for the (Poughkeepsie) site to become a global hub of our quantum computing development, just as it is today for mainframes,” the company CEO Arvind Krishna says in a statement.