The Dutch company ASML, which manufactures EUV lithography equipment and other types of photolithography equipment, has decided to establish a support base for semiconductor production in the vicinity of Chitose City, Hokkaido, Japan, in the latter half of 2024. This location is where the Rapidus factory is being built, aiming to achieve 2nm mass production.
According to reports from Kyodo News and Nikkei, amid geopolitical tensions, Japan is strengthening its domestic semiconductor production, leading to various semiconductor-related companies from different countries setting up operations in Japan.
ASML's EUV lithography equipment are essential for commercializing chips below 5-7nm. Therefore, in order to support Rapidus, which plans to trial-produce 2 nm chips in 2025, ASML will establish a presence in the latter half of 2024 with around 40–50 technical personnel to assist in setting up EUV lithography equipment in the new factory and provide subsequent maintenance support.
If Rapidus begins production, Japan will become the fifth country to introduce EUV lithography equipment, joining the United States, Taiwan, South Korea, and Ireland.
In addition to Hokkaido, ASML is also assisting TSMC in the construction of a 12-inch wafer factory in Kumamoto, Japan. In September 2023, ASML relocated its technical support base to Kumamoto and increased the number of engineers fourfold, from about 10 to approximately 40. Over the next five years, starting in 2023, ASML plans to increase its personnel in Japan by 40%, from the current 400 people to around 560 people by around 2028.
Apart from ASML, Applied Materials also plans to increase its workforce in Japan by 60%. To support Rapidus, Lam Research will establish a semiconductor equipment logistics base in Hokkaido. Belgium's microelectronics research center, Imec, is also planning to establish new bases in Tokyo and Hokkaido.
To prepare for the launch of a 2nm chip trial production line in 2025, Rapidus is rapidly constructing a factory in Chitose City, Hokkaido. According to the architectural project outline submitted by Rapidus to the Hokkaido government, the first factory under construction, "IIM-1," has a floor area of approximately 54,000 square meters, is four stories high with a height of about 31 meters, and has a total usage area of 159,000 square meters, including electrical facilities.
"IIM-1" is expected to introduce 2 nm chip trial production equipment by December 2024, with the trial production line starting operations in April 2025.
The land for the second factory, "IIM-2," next to "IIM-1," has also been reserved. It is planned to be built after 2 nm chip mass production begins in 2027, for the production of chips below 2nm.