Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 346, July 1998

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Japanese Companies in the US


Most planned wafer fabrication facilities are on hold because of the slump in the worldwide semiconductor market, particularly the memory end of the business. Nonetheless, NEC CORP. announced that it could start construction of a 300- millimeter (12-inch) wafer fabrication facility at its Roseville, California complex as soon as later this year. The new fab will employ 0.15-micron processing techniques; the circuits in today's state-of-the-art chips are 0.25 micron. The facility initially will have the capacity to turn out 20,000 wafers a month. They will be used for multimedia and system-on-a-chip products as well as for high-density 256-megabit and 1-gigabit DRAMs (dynamic random access memories). Construction costs will be in the range of $1.4 billion. NEC already has invested in excess of $1.3 billion in the Roseville facility, which corporate executives say is one of the company's most productive semiconductor plants anywhere in the world. Operations now are projected to start in 2002. That timing is contingent, however, on market conditions and the state of development of 300-mm wafer fabrication equipment and process technology. Whenever the new fab comes on-line, another 700 or so jobs will be created at Roseville.

Japan's number-one and number-two manufacturers of wafer cleaning equipment — SANKYO ENGINEERING CO., LTD. and SUGAI CO., LTD. — are set to merge in October. When that happens, Kyoto-based Sugai will use the Tokyo company's manufacturing facility in Tempe, Arizona as a production base. Sugai will start off by assembling its Pegasus cleaning system from parts imported from Japan, but in time it plans to source components from U.S. suppliers and begin integrated manufacturing. That is the path SANKYO ENGINEERING OF AMERICA, INC. followed after opening the Tempe plant in April 1991. It now works with 20 or so local companies in manufacturing 8-inch automatic wet benches. Sugai, which shipped its first Pegasus system to an American customer in April 1997, will send 10 engineers to Arizona.

An exchange rate of ¥140=$1.00 was used in this report.

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