Dominique Numakura's Newsletter from Japan
Jul 18, 2005
Japan Semiconductor Union?
The Semiconductor Industry News, a weekly Japanese newspaper in the industry was reporting new activities of the semiconductor industry in Japan.
Japanese government organized two big R&D consortiums "MIRAI" and "ASUKA" for the next generation technology of semiconductors in 2001. Most of the major Japanese semiconductor manufacturers, many universities and institutes have been contributing for the R&D projects. But the Japanese government will originate a new project "ASPLA" by merging the current two projects to eliminate the duplications of the R&D efforts. The final goal of the new project is a foundation of the new semiconductor manufacturing company.
The Japanese semiconductor industry has been concerned about the remarkable growth of the manufacturers in Korea and Taiwan. Especially, the Korean giant, Samsung Electronics became the worldâ€™s number one manufacturer of the memory devices and display devices, and the Japanese companies do not think that any one of Japanese semiconductor manufacturers can compete against Samsung.
There was no formal announcement. But the newspaper reported the major semiconductor manufacturers have been negotiating with each other to create a new huge semiconductor manufacturing company. The new company will be founded by the end of this year. The first stage investment will be 200 billion yen. (about two billion US dollars) There have been about a dozen of major semiconductor manufacturers in Japan. Ten companies of them already became the members of the ASPLA project, and they will join the new company. METI (Ministry of Economy, Trading and Industry) of the Japanese government has been supporting the foundation of the new company.
It is a typical approach of the Japanese industry when they have a market crisis. They agree to have a moratorium and they temporary stop to compete with each other. Usually, Japanese government supports (or leads) the approach. This kind of approach works for a while. But I do not think it is a good idea for the long term stand point. The engineers will be asked to follow the direction of the government and they will loose the opportunities to create new unique technologies.
Headlines of the week
Kyocera (Major device manufacturer in Japan)
Will invest several billion yen to increase the manufacturing capacity of the digital photo printer heads five times larger to 10 million units per year. The demand in the U.S. has been growing rapidly.
Oki Data (Electronics company in Japan)
Will strengthen the domestic sales of digital photo printer to increase the market share to 25% from 6 %.
Samsung Electronics (Major electronics company in Korea)
Will start the operation of the 7th generation LCD line (1870 x 2200 mm) in April 2006. It is half year earlier than the original plan.
Mitsubishi Rayon (Major chemical company in Japan)
Has agreed to sell Ryoko Denshi Kogyo, PWB manufacturing subsidiary to Arm Denshi, a major prototype PWB shop in Japan.
Mitsubishi Cable (Major cable company in Japan)
Has developed a new shielding PET film for the wireless LAN. It covers a wide range frequency changing the antenna patterns on the film.
Fujikura Kasei (Electronic material company in Japan)
Co-developed a new shielding paste for the printed circuits. The new paste can be coated on a non-flat surface of the electronic circuit assemblies.
Fujitsu & Docomo (Japan)
Co-developed a new fuel cell for the 3G cellular phones, FOMA with 99% methanol. An 18 cc cartridge has the capacity equivalent as three Li ion batteries.
Ibiden (Major PWB manufacturer in Japan)
Will build a new building in Ogaki for the head office and training center. The new office will open in November 2005.
Sharp (Major electronics company in Japan)
Has developed a new optical disc technology with a double layer construction. A 12 cm disc has a 100 GB capacity that is enough for 9 hours of the high- resolution movies.
Sanyo and Shellcase (Japan and Israel)
Developed a new wafer level package technology "ShellUltra Thin" for the imaging devices and MEMS devices. It provides a much thinner thickness than traditional WLP technology.
Sharp (Major electronics company in Japan)
Had a cross license agreement with AOU, a major display device manufacturer in Taiwan for the TFT-LCD technologies.
Sumitomo Electric (Major flex circuit manufacturer in Japan)
Unveiled the new ultra fine line technology with a photolithography process of Nano-Metal Ink for the next generation LCD.
Toray (Major chemical company in Japan)
Will increase the manufacturing capacity of photo-sensitive paste 125% to 2160 tons per year for the booming demands of PDP devices.