Japan’s NIKKEI said Rapidus plans to send 100 engineers to IBM to acquire the gate-all-around (GAA) technology needed for 2nm chip production. Rapidus and IBM signed a technology agreement in December 2022 and sent the first batch of workers in April. Another 100 will be sent this summer. To support the programme, the Japanese government announced an additional US$1.9 billion in subsidies to Rapidus in April.
For those not in the know, GAA technology was developed to prevent current leakage as semiconductor circuit line widths are further minimised. It is considered a key process technology for the advanced micro-fabrication of semiconductors. IBM is expected to begin production of the world’s first 2nm product prototype in 2021. Rapidus will pay a license fee to acquire the technology. and wants mass production in 2027.
The move has the backing of the US government which wants to move supply chains away from Taiwan and South Korea while keeping China in check. The United States and Japan issued a joint statement announcing the creation of a joint roadmap for the development of next-generation semiconductors and human resources development to strengthen technical cooperation in the semiconductor sector.
IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said that the United States and Japan will collaborate more on advanced semiconductors and quantum computers.
“I think that Japan has a high possibility of achieving success. There is enough investment in the Japanese semiconductor industry; Japanese semiconductor engineers are working hard and IBM will provide the technology.”