IBM has learned hard lessons from the supply chain disruptions over the past three years and is working with a Japanese chipmaking startup, Rapidus, in order to preserve the global supply chain of semiconductors. Rapidus has taken IBM’s 2-nanometer chip and over the next few years, will build these chips in Japan, to help diversify the chip supply chain.
Japan’s semiconductor supply chain
IBM was founded in 1911 and is headquartered in Armonk, New York. The developers and engineers at IBM are dedicated to creating positive change with technology. The pandemic hit IBM hard, with its net income falling 46% in July 2020. Employees took pay cuts and some were laid off entirely. The company is keen to protect itself from such circumstances again, which is where its work with Rapidus comes in.
Semiconductor manufacturer Rapidus is headquartered in Tokyo and aims to ‘manufacture the world’s most advanced logic semiconductors’.
In 2022, Rapidus opened for business at the encouragement of the Japanese government and began to build up the country’s semiconductor manufacturing capacity. The company aims to build a chipmaking foundry which can manufacture silicon chips, following in the steps of chip-making titan Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company - whose production is under the potential threat of disruption in the form of Chinese invasion. Currently, Taiwan manufactures 60% of the world's semiconductors and a war with China would impact the chip supply chain.
Rapidus is building a factory in Hokkaido for its 2nm chips and has invested US$35bn in the project.
"When it comes to 2 nm technology, we are focusing our efforts on Rapidus and investing a great deal of resources to this project, even sacrificing some capacity that we could have used in other research,” said IBM Japan’s Chief Technology Officer Norishige Morimoto. "We want Rapidus to succeed. We want it to contribute to a stable supply of the chips we and the world need.”
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