Memory chip maker Micron on Wednesday kicked off mass production of its new high-capacity low-power 1-beta dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips at its plant in Hiroshima, Japan. Both the US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, and Japanese officials attended a ceremony in Hiroshima to mark the start of the large-scale output, highlighting the growing political importance of semiconductors for the two allies.
Earlier this month, Micron said it started shipping samples of its most advanced DRAM chip based on the LPDDR5X, low-power double data rate 5X, standard to smartphone makers to test out.
At the time, the company said it was able to get to the 1-beta manufacturing technology without using the expensive extreme ultraviolet, or EUV, lithography tools, which are used in the latest processor chips in top-end smartphones.
The production of Micron‘s most advanced chip, which can store a third more data than older chips, comes as Japan tries to revive and modernise its once-mighty chip industry.
Emanuel said on Twitter that Wednesday’s launch was an example of how the two countries “are committed to strengthening semiconductor supply chains” and national security together.
The former Chicago mayor who has focused on bolstering commercial ties between both countries to safeguard supply chains and cut reliance on China.
Tokyo worries that growing trade friction between the United States and China could cause shortages of semiconductors needed by automakers and other manufacturers.
The Japanese government in September offered Micron a JPY 46.5 billion (roughly Rs. 2,709 crore) to boost production capacity at its plant.
In July it gave a JPY 93 billion (roughly Rs. 5,417 crore) subsidy to rival memory chip makers Kioxia and Western Digital to help it expand output at their joint factory in Japan.
DRAM chips are widely used in data centres, personal computers and other devices.
© Thomson Reuters 2022