The global chip shortage could soon create some unexpected allies in Japan. As Reuters Reports, Nikkei Sources claim Sony and TSMC are “considering” jointly establishing a semiconductor factory in Japan’s western Kumamoto Prefecture. TSMC would have a majority, according to insiders, but the plant would operate on Sony land near that company’s image sensor factory. The Japanese government would reportedly cover up to half of the $ 7 billion investment.
The plant would supply chips for cameras, cars, and other uses. Accordingly, the auto parts giant Denso should be interested in the project. If the project progresses, the factory would be operational by 2024. Sony and TSMC have declined to comment despite TSMC’s earlier announcement that it will “actively review” plans for such an effort.
A joint facility would not be surprising. Some analysts assume that the global chip shortage will persist through 2023, assuming that demand will not grow faster than forecast. This would help Sony, TSMC, and the larger Japanese tech industry bounce back from the scarcity, not to mention the stability. It could also act as a hedge – Japan, Sony and TSMC would not have to worry about the tensions between China and the US threatening manufacturing in Taiwan.
The factory could be ready at just the right time. By 2024, highly connected and semi-autonomous cars should be the order of the day, and it’s no secret that cameras also play a crucial role in budget smartphones. A new facility could be critical to keeping these technologies on track.
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