Denso Corp. and United Semiconductor Japan Co. Ltd. (USJC), a subsidiary of United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), have agreed to install an insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) line at USJC’s 300 mm fab to manufacture power semiconductors.
The IGBT line will be the first in Japan to produce IGBTs on 300 mm wafers and will be used to meet chip demands in the automotive industry.
The automotive industry has been hit hard by the ongoing semiconductor shortage causing many OEMs to reduce outlooks for revenue and stop production on some vehicles for a short time. Additionally, some vendors are turning to shipping vehicles without certain semiconductors just to get the cars on the market.
As part of the agreement, Denso will contribute system oriented IGBT device and process technologies while USJC will provide its 300 mm wafer manufacturing capabilities to bring it to mass production. The line is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2023.
“Semiconductors are becoming increasingly important in the automotive industry as mobility technologies evolve, including automated driving and electrification,” said Koji Arima, president of Denso. “Through this collaboration, we contribute to the stable supply of power semiconductors and electrification of automobiles.”
The companies said that demand for semiconductors is rising even further with the global automotive transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and IGBTs are core devices in power cards that serve as efficient power switches in inverters to convert DC and AC currents to drive and control EV motors.
“As a key foundry player in Japan, USJC is committed to supporting the government’s strategy to boost domestic semiconductor production and the transition to more environmentally friendly electric vehicles,” said Michiari Kawano, president of USJC.
Late last year, the Japanese government said it would consider spending up to $88 billion over the next decade to revive its domestic semiconductor manufacturing. This would include tax breaks and incentives to woo both domestic and foreign investment in the country.
The move by Japan echoes a global switch to improve domestic semiconductor manufacturing after flaws in the chip industry were revealed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Europe and the United States are actively working to improve semiconductor manufacturing domestically as both governments have proposed bills to offer incentives and subsidies to manufacturers. The European Union specifically said the goal is to manufacture 20% of the world’s chips by 2030.