TOKYO (Reuters) – Memory chip maker Micron Technology 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 U.S. 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.
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 46.5 billion yen ($332 million) to boost production capacity at its plant.
In July it gave a 93 billion yen subsidy to rival memory chip makers Kioxia Corp and Western Digital Corp to help it expand output at their joint factory Japan.
DRAM chips are widely used in data centres, personal computers and other devices.
($1 = 140.2700 yen)
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by David Dolan and Elaine Hardcastle)