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Japan Bets $67 Billion to Become a Global Chip Powerhouse Once Again

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发表于 2-21-2024 12:36:32 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 2-21-2024 12:46 编辑

Yoshiaki Nohara 野原 良明, Japan Bets $67 Billion to Become a Global Chip Powerhouse Once Again. Bloomberg News, Feb 20, 2024.
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/j ... come-210013021.html

Note:
(a) "Chitose airport* * * Kazumi Nishikawa, principal director of economic security policy at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry [(METI) 経済産業省] * * * Atsuo Shimizu [清水 敦男; atsu-i 篤い (adjective) sincere], a Rapidus executive in charge of launching the new foundry."
(i) New Chitose Airport  新千歳空港
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Chitose_Airport
(1988- ; City of Chitose 千歳市)

The ja.wikipedia.org says that the name Chitose came from Ainu's name for the place: "「シコッペッ」([meaning] 大きい・窪み・川)" where 窪み is defined as hollow, cavity, dent, depression. The シコッペッ sounds as shikoppe. The "tose" is one of the three Japanese pronunciations for kanji 歳; chi is Japanese pronunciation of 千.
(ii) Kazumi NISHIKAWA  西川 和見


(b) "luring to Japan the biggest foreign names psuch as TSMC] in the industry with generous subsidies of up to half of the set-up costs. * * * By 2037, tax revenues from the foundries are likely to have paid back the initial government outlays, according to lawmaker Yoshihiro Seki, secretary general of a coalition [自民党の半導体戦略推進議員連盟の事務局長] within Japan's ruling party dedicated to chips. * * * Shigeru Fujii headed chipmaking at Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. when it lost out to cheaper Taiwanese and South Korean rivals in past decades."
(i) Yoshihiro SEKI  関 芳弘 (1965- (age 58); male; Liberal Democratic Party; serves in House of Representatives (Japan) 衆議院)
(ii)
(A) Shigeru FUJI-I  藤井 滋. LinkedIn, undated
https://jp.linkedin.com/in/滋-藤井-65283443/en
("Experience[:]
• CEO/代表取締役
Samurai Simiconductor [sic] Corporation/株式会社SSC  [SSC is pronounced with katakana, therefore similar to English pronunciation -- rather than pronouncing samurai, for example. SSC is a company in the field of 半導体設計.]
Jul 2014 - Present 9 years 8 months
神奈川県横浜市 * * *
• Fujitsu
6 years 3 months [total, which included]
Corporate Senior Exective Vice President
Apr 2008 - Mar 2010   2 years
* * *
Corporate Seniro [sic] VP, Group President Electronic Devices Business Group
Jun 2006 - Mar 2008   1 year 10 months

Education[:]
Kobe University Graphic  神戸大学
Master Electronics
1970 - 1976")
(B) Fujii, Shigeru Oral History. Computer History Museum, Nov 1, 2012 (Catalog Number 102746587)
https://www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/102746587
(Description[:] * * * He completed a master's degree at the university before joining Fujitsu Labs as his first job. * * * He was the lead designer for Sun's first integrated SPARC implementation in a custom Fujitsu gate array. After spending some time in the US with Fujitsu, Fujii-san eventually rose to be Chief Operating Officer of Fujitsu Semiconductor")

Quote:

"Doug Fairbairn pone of the two interviewers]: So your first job you joined Fujitsu Laboratories…
Shigeru Fujii: Hai.
Doug Fairbairn: …out of university?
Shigeru Fujii: Hai, in the department of semiconductor R&D in semiconductor?  
* * *
Doug Fairbairn: And this was in 1976?
Shigeru Fujii: Yes, '76/77, yes"

"Shigeru Fujii: After I returned to Japan [from US, afte4r spending 1 1/2 years there] then next year because—2005 or something; in that time I’m some kind higher level.
* * *
Shigeru Fujii: Yes, so that's—in that time Fujitsu, we focus to develop 90 nanometer technologies.  As a result that's the number one technology to work. Much better than TSMC, much lower power than TSMC, we achieved that one."

"Anant Agrawal [the other interviewer]: [I gave two questions for you.] Number one, do you believe Fujitsu, can it survive as semiconductor company?  And number two, what are the growth areas that Fujitsu should focus on?
Shigeru Fujii: Very detailed questions.  The answer for first question that's I could not answer [because it is a corporate trade secret].  
Anant Agrawal: Okay.
Shigeru Fujii: Next question.  The biggest reason Japanese semiconductor industry is becoming worse and worse - that's merely we focused to support domestic customers.  What happened to domestic customer?  For example TV, Panasonic, Sony; not an Apple, not a Google, not an Amazon.  So this mean then totally Japan industry becoming lower.  As a result customer business is becoming worse; that's our semiconductor business becoming worse; that’s the biggest risk.  So, that's it, how to overcome this one that's Japan industry should be more global company, mainly semiconductor.  That's the only solution for semiconductor industry in Japan - should become global.  But what mean global?  Not only progress <ph?> but also fab and the human resource issues, employment issues; a lot of issues… \\
Anant Agrawal: Culture."  

•  There is no need to read the rest of the transcript. Mr Fujii's English was/ is poor. Often the interviewers and interviewee (Mr Fujii) could not understand each other.
• SPARC
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPARC
("is [note the present tense] a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) instruction set architecture originally developed by Sun Microsystems"/ table: Introduced 1986, Open        Yes, and royalty free; The end of introduction in this Wiki page suggests that no one is using it after Oracle and Fujitsu retreated from SPARC)
• The given name shigeru is actually a verb, meaning plant growing luxuriantly. So Shigeru YOSHIDA 吉田 茂 (prime minister of Japan 1948-1954) had the kanji for his given name that really reflected the meaning of shigeru.
(B) Fujitsu  富士通
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujitsu
("is a Japanese multinational information and communications technology equipment and services corporation, established in 1935 and headquartered in Tokyo.[2] It is the world's sixth-largest IT services provider by annual revenue, and the largest in Japan, in 2021. * * * Fujitsu was established on June 20, 1935, which makes it one of the oldest operating IT companies after IBM and before Hewlett-Packard, under the name Fuji Telecommunications Equipment Manufacturing (富士電気通信機器製造, Fuji Denki Tsūshin Kiki Seizō), as a spin-off of the Fuji Electric Company, itself a joint venture between the Furukawa Electric Company and the German conglomerate Siemens which had been founded in 1923. Despite its connections to the Furukawa [古河 (founder's surname, with furu and kawa being Japanese pronunciations of respective kanji)] zaibatsu [財閥 (while occupying Japan, US dissolved zaibatsu 財閥解体], Fujitsu escaped the Allied occupation of Japan after the Second World War mostly unscathed
(C) Japanese-English dictionary:
* suishin 推進 【すいしん】
* renmei 連盟[P(rincipal)]; 聯盟 【れんめい】
* ji-mu-kyoku-chō 事務局長 【じむきょくちょう】 (n): "secretary-general; director-general; executive director; executive secretary"
   ^ ji-mu-kyoku 事務局 【じむきょく】 (n): "secretariat; executive office"


(c) "As its name suggests, Rapidus will add value to its products by shortening delivery time for its bespoke chips – not just via the manufacturing process, but also by helping customers shorten the time-consuming design process U U U The government has so far promised ¥330 billion and earmarked an extra ¥646 billion in a fund to support the Rapidus project. That should cover half of an initial ¥2 trillion investment, but the private company [Rapidus] has yet to say how it will raise the remaining cash or an extra ¥3 trillion needed to expand operations after the foundry is launched. * * * Takashi Yunogami is a former Hitachi Ltd. engineer who made news by fiercely criticizing past government initiatives in parliament right before the chip strategy was released. He likens Rapidus's 2nm goal to a little leaguer in baseball trying to turn into superstar Shohei Ohtani overnight. 'Kids should dream, but if a baseball boy says he is trying to do well as a two-way player starting from tomorrow, I'd say, 'Hold on. Let's take it step by step' "
(i)
(A) Latin-English dictionary:
* rapidus (adjective masculine): "rapid"
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rapidus
(B) Rapidus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapidus
(2-022- ; based in Tokyo; "The semiconductor industry in Japan was highly competitive in the 1980s, with a global share reaching 50%.[3] However, the 1986 Japan-United States semiconductor agreement concluded to resolve trade friction and the rise of South Korea and Taiwan gradually reduced competitiveness")
(ii) Takashi YU-NO-Gami  湯之上 隆 (kanji 湯 means hot water; kami, Japanese pronunciation of 上, here softened to gami.)
(iii) two-way player
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-way_player
(A) Shohei Ohtani  大谷 翔平
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shohei_Ohtani
("is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers" in National League of Major League Baseball)
(B) Designated Hitter Rule. MLB, undated
https://www.mlb.com/glossary/rules/designated-hitter-rule

the first 2 1/2 paragraphs:

"The designated hitter rule allows teams to use another player to bat in place of the pitcher. Because the pitcher is still part of the team's nine defensive players, the designated hitter -- or "DH" -- does not take the field on defense.

"The rule was adopted by the American League in 1973, while pitchers continued [note the past tense] to hit in games played at National League parks. The designated hitter was adopted by the National League as part of the 2022-26 collective bargaining agreement.

"The DH must be selected prior to the game, and that selected hitter must come to bat at least one time -- unless the opposing team changes pitchers prior to that point. * * *

-----------------------------text
(Bloomberg) -- Deep in the snowy northern island of Hokkaido, Japan is pouring billions of dollars into a long-shot bet to revive its chip-making prowess and insulate its economy from growing US-China tensions.

Excavators and trucks criss-cross the frosty ground as construction work continues on a futuristic factory looking over a grassy plain with roaming horses. It’s a development that is changing the landscape of an area known for farming, military bases and Chitose airport. It’s a project that also aims to change the face of Japan’s chip industry.

A freshly created homegrown venture, Rapidus Corp., is looking to mass produce state-of-the art 2 nanometer logic chips in 2027 from an initial starting point of zero. By industry standards it’s an implausible challenge for an 18-month-old venture in a country that has fallen far behind overseas rivals on semiconductor production.But with the US and China sparring over access to the latest chipmaking expertise and equipment, Japan’s government has sensed an opportunity to leverage Washington’s concern over supply chain security to get back into a game it once dominated.

The stakes are huge. Advanced chips will serve as the foundation for a dozen critical technologies, including artificial intelligence, weapons systems and electric vehicles. A large portion of global production centers on Taiwan and South Korea, leaving future supplies vulnerable to regional tensions.

“There are geopolitical, economic security factors involved,” said Atsuo Shimizu, a Rapidus executive in charge of launching the new foundry. “To survive as a nation, Japan needs to be a global player with technology. And we can clearly demonstrate that with semiconductors.”

Why Making Computer Chips Has Become a New Arms Race: QuickTake
Tokyo has already shown it means business. In less than three years, Japan has earmarked about ¥4 trillion ($26.7 billion) for revitalizing its semiconductor punching power with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida targeting financial support for the industry to eventually reach ¥10 trillion with private sector support. Among the goals is a tripling of domestically produced chip sales to more than ¥15 trillion by 2030.

Japan’s new chip strategy has two main strands. First, the country is seeking to reestablish itself as a prime location for manufacturing legacy chips by luring to Japan the biggest foreign names in the industry with generous subsidies of up to half of the set-up costs.

The second and more ambitious part of the strategy is the Rapidus project in Hokkaido aimed at restoring Japan’s place as a player at the forefront of silicon-chip wizardry. “Why do we do so much for chips? Honestly, that’s because there’s the US-China confrontation,” said Kazumi Nishikawa, principal director of economic security policy at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and one of the architects of the strategy. “If chip supplies from Taiwan halt, there will be negative impacts of trillions of dollars everywhere and economies will collapse.”

Already Tokyo can claim some success in the first and larger part of its strategy. The world’s biggest chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., has a $7 billion factory edging closer to production in Kumamoto, southern Japan, with another one to come and talk of a third. The Taiwanese giant has quickly realized that chip projects partly bankrolled by Tokyo can get off the ground a whole lot faster than in the US or other countries.

By drawing on the expertise of the world’s leading manufacturers, Japan hopes to recreate chip-related ecosystems that provide employment and renewed growth in its regional economies.

At the same time these moves will help strengthen Japan’s credentials as a key ally in a US-led global supply chain committed to keeping the production line of vital semiconductors rolling for everything from smartphones and cars to the latest missile systems.

The fate of the second part of Tokyo’s strategy looks far less certain. The Rapidus project has generated both excitement and doubts. Its success hinges on achieving a huge technological jump with little idea of how costly or reliable the final output will be—or if there will be any buyers. It’s a target that even industry leaders are struggling to attain.

On the plus side, Japan can lean on the US as its ally this time around, rather than its technological foe—as was the case back in 1986 when Washington put pressure on Tokyo to limit its chip exports.

As part of the Rapidus project, IBM Corp. is training about 100 veteran Japanese engineers in Albany, New York, to get them up to speed on frontier level US chip expertise.“We're partners, allies, collaborators in making sure that our national security, our economic securities are aligned, because the threat is coming from somewhere else. And that somewhere else is China,” US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said. “We're in the boat together and we're paddling in the same direction.”

Japan’s strategy marks a departure from previous attempts to support its chip industry that largely assumed it didn’t need outside help -- and ended in failure.

Along with TSMC, Micron Technology Inc., ASML Holding NV and Samsung Electronics Co. are also investing in production or research facilities in Japan as companies look for the best deals for shoring up their future output in an uncertain world.

The speed of Japan’s assistance contrasts with the policy gridlock of the US. The 2022 Chips and Science Act set aside $39 billion in direct subsidies to ramp up manufacturing in the US, but the first major award of $1.5 billion only got announced this week. Labor and cost challenges have also delayed the start of production at TSMC’s new facility in Arizona. Over in Germany, budget turmoil has raised concerns about subsidies for TSMC and Intel Corp.“Japan this time has taken a bold approach and has implemented very quick decision-making,” Belgium-based microelectronics research hub Imec Chief Executive Officer Luc Van den hove said. “If I look back 20 years ago or 15 years ago, I think there was much more a closed policy especially from the government.”

The TSMC plants have ample reason to be successful. The technology for the first plant’s products, 12nm to 28nm logic chips, is already established. Kumamoto is on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu where there’s an ecosystem of about 1,000 related tech companies. And there are customers – including Japanese carmakers.

TSMC’s second foundry, officially announced earlier this month, will make 6nm to 7nm chips nearby. By 2037, tax revenues from the foundries are likely to have paid back the initial government outlays, according to lawmaker Yoshihiro Seki, secretary general of a coalition within Japan’s ruling party dedicated to chips.

Japan is an attractive location for other reasons, too. It has a highly disciplined workforce and reliable services. The plunge in the Japanese yen to its weakest levels in decades has also helped make the country far more affordable as a production base.Japan is also a key global supplier of some of the chemicals and equipment used in chipmaking. Some of those Japanese suppliers, including Tokyo Electron Ltd., have taken advantage of the flipside of the economic security concerns by tapping into a surge of Chinese demand as Beijing looks to ramp up its existing know-how before any more restrictions emerge.

While some of the reasons for Japan’s attractiveness as a chip-making base also hold true in northern Japan, the circumstances are quite different. Rapidus is starting out in a long-forgotten region for manufacturing with only about 20 local businesses related to chip making.

Expertise at Japan’s national technology institute has long been stalled at 45 nm, so for Rapidus to reach significant output of 2nm chips using unproven IBM technology in around five years looks a very tall order. Even if Rapidus is able to hit its target by 2027, TSMC and Samsung will likely have already jumped into the market at volumes that will give them a cost advantage.

Shigeru Fujii headed chipmaking at Japan’s Fujitsu Ltd. when it lost out to cheaper Taiwanese and South Korean rivals in past decades. He’s yet to see evidence that Rapidus can break into the cut-throat global market.“The problem is: Will there be any customers?” Fujii said.

This time will be different, said Rapidus’s Shimizu, who worked under Fujii at Fujitsu. As its name suggests, Rapidus will add value to its products by shortening delivery time for its bespoke chips – not just via the manufacturing process, but also by helping customers shorten the time-consuming design process, he said.The company won’t be able to compete against TSMC and Samsung for commoditized devices so the company will aim for more of a premium niche market, Shimizu indicated.

A shift in technology could also help Rapidus, Shimizu added. The 2-nanometer chips it envisages will use a Gate-All-Around transistor structure instead of the current FinFET structure, making it easier for newcomers to break in, Shimizu said.

“We can do it,” he said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t.”

The government has so far promised ¥330 billion and earmarked an extra ¥646 billion in a fund to support the Rapidus project. That should cover half of an initial ¥2 trillion investment, but the private company has yet to say how it will raise the remaining cash or an extra ¥3 trillion needed to expand operations after the foundry is launched.In contrast to the government support Rapidus enjoys, the reaction from corporate Japan has been lukewarm. Big firms such as Toyota Motor Corp. have pledged only ¥7.3 billion for the venture so far.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says…
“The Japanese government's latest chip strategy looks better thought out than on previous occasions. The balance is a little skewed toward Rapidus and Kumamoto. Perhaps more could be done to support domestic chip design companies. The challenge for Rapidus is huge, and success probably shouldn't hinge on profits. If it can make any reliable 2 nanometer chips by 2027 that would be a success for Japan in terms of economic security.”-- Masahiro Wakasugi, BI industry analyst

Even if IBM trains engineers for the company, Rapidus will struggle to hire the 1,000 or so engineers and workers needed to launch the foundry, experts say. Japan’s chip sector hemorrhaged around 30% of its jobs in the two decades through 2019 as its share of the global chipmaking market fell from over 50% to less than 10%. That leaves a shortage of at least 40,000 workers over the next decade as the population declines, according to METI.

Takashi Yunogami is a former Hitachi Ltd. engineer who made news by fiercely criticizing past government initiatives in parliament right before the chip strategy was released. He likens Rapidus’s 2nm goal to a little leaguer in baseball trying to turn into superstar Shohei Ohtani overnight.

“Kids should dream, but if a baseball boy says he is trying to do well as a two-way player starting from tomorrow, I’d say, ‘Hold on. Let’s take it step by step,’” Yunogami said.

Still, in addition to the support from IBM, California-based Lam Research Corp. and Imec are planning to open shop in Hokkaido. Rapidus has also struck an agreement with Canada’s Tenstorrent Inc. to jointly develop semiconductor intellectual property in AI devices. “There are so many risks and challenges for Rapidus. It’s still in a research and development stage before becoming a business,” said METI’s Nishikawa.

Still, Japan’s hefty subsidies show a renewed determination at the trade and industry ministry to take advantage of a window of opportunity to claw back some of the nation’s chip power. They also reflect the view that in an increasingly hostile world it’s better to throw money at chip technology than to have no contingency plan at all.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea’s launching of missiles and China’s posturing toward Taiwan have reminded the world of the vital importance of securing chip supplies and strengthening defense systems.“Chips are used for drones, fighters, submarines and missiles,” said the LDP’s Seki. “If we can make others feel Japan can halt chip exports if they mess with us, that will mean our investment has served as a war deterrent, too.”

--With assistance from Takashi Mochizuki, Yuki Furukawa, Peter Elstrom and Vlad Savov.
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