Micron Technology said it will invest up to 500 billion yen ($3.6 billion) in Japan for the next few years with support from the Japanese government to up its game in next-generation memory chips.
The move indicates that the Japanese government is ambitiously pushing ahead with its semiconductor space resurgence and bringing chip technology into the country to strengthen the chip supply chain amid the rising tension between U.S. and China.
The U.S. chip giant plans to install extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in Japan to make the next generation of dynamic random access memory (DRAM), called the 1-gamma chips, at its Hiroshima plant.
The 1-gamma node, which follows the current industry’s most advanced 1-beta node, will be the smallest cell size in the world. Micron expects to “ramp EUV into production on the 1-gamma node in Taiwan and Japan from 2025 onwards,” it said in a statement. In November, Micron began mass production of its 1-beta DRAM at the Hiroshima plant.
Micron, the only company that makes DRAM in Japan, will be the first to bring the EUV chip-making equipment to Japan. The EUV technology with the 1-gamma node will enable the next-generation node “to deliver faster, more power-efficient and higher-performance memory products.”
The U.S. chip juggernaut manufactures about one-thrids of the DRAM the Japanese companies use in sectors including automotive, data center, 5G infrastructure and medical equipment.
“We are proud to be the first to use EUV in Japan and to be developing and manufacturing 1-gamma at our Hiroshima fab,” Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said in the statement.
The investment announcement comes after Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida met executives from major chip manufacturers, including Micron, TSMC, Samsung and Intel, on Thursday in Japan. Some of the chipmakers said they would consider further investment in Japan. Micron is the only one so far with a concrete commitment in the country.
Japan has been supporting the country’s chip industry.
Last year, the Japanese government, with a handful of tech firms, including Kioxia, SoftBank, Sony, Toyota, and NEC, backed Rapidus, which aims to make 2-nanometer chips by 2027. It also earmarked subsidies for a joint chip research center and chipmakers such as Kioxia, TSMC, and Micron to establish their plants in Japan.
Rahm Emanuel, United States ambassador to Japan, said: “This partnership demonstrates how allies, when working together, can create economic opportunity and security in cutting-edge technologies.”
Meanwhile, Micron has been in an ongoing cybersecurity probe in China, launched a month ago by the country’s cybersecurity watchdog.
Micron, which now has more than 4,000 engineers and technicians in Japan, has hired over 1,500 workforces in the country over the past five years.