Rapidus, a government-backed Japanese chipmaker, recently announced that it plans to set up a prototype production line that will produce new, cutting-edge 2nm semiconductors. The goal is to have the facility begin production by the first half of 2025.
Should Rapidus manage to meet its proposed deadline for its 2nm production, it would put the Japanese company’s position not too far behind TSMC, which is currently the world’s largest fab and chip foundry.
It goes without saying that the development and manufacturing process of the 2nm process will not be easy. Given the overarching complexity of producing such top-of-the-line chips means that Rapidus will need help; the company announced back in December 2022 that it would partner up with IBM, in order to reach its goal.
Overall, Rapidus says that its 2nm process would deliver as much as 45% performance boost over the current 7nm process and pack more than 50 billion transistors into a space no bigger than a fingernail. Further, the new process will also consume 75% less power than the 7nm process when complete. As for its use case, it is likely that some of the earliest adopters will be companies specialising in AI and supercomputing.
Rapidus also says that it will be hiring “hundreds of engineers” as part of its expansion program, all of whom will be dedicated and focused on the development of the 2nm process. To that end, the Japanese chipmaker will also be investing up to US$15 billion (~RM63.52 billion) in order to get the new process node off the ground, along with an additional 3 trillion Yen (~RM97.7 billion).
Rapidus isn’t the only chipmaker that has dreams of a 2nm future. Intel, unsurprisingly, plans on debuting its own 2nm process, known currently as 20 Ångström (20A), in 2024, and is also chasing up to TSMC. For that matter, its first set of clients for the new process include Amazon and Qualcomm.
Samsung too plans on mass-producing 2nm by 2025, along with plans to begin producing 1.4nm chips by 2027.
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