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Rapidus, Esperanto Technologies team up for low-power AI semiconductors

Rapidus Corp. has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with Esperanto Technologies Inc. to promote the development and manufacture of low-power artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductors for data centers, which will be indispensable in the coming full-fledged AI era.

Esperanto develops high-performance, energy-efficient computing solutions for AI/machine learning based on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture. The company has semiconductor design technology that achieves high energy efficiency in the fields of generative AI and high-performance computing (HPC).

Last September, Rapidus began construction of IIM (Innovative Integration for Manufacturing) in Chitose City, Hokkaido. This will be Japan’s first facility for the production of state-of-the-art logic semiconductors at 2nm and beyond. At the same time, Rapidus has been dispatching researchers to the Albany Nanotech Complex in New York, one of the world’s most advanced semiconductor research centers, to work with IBM to develop technologies for the production of 2nm logic semiconductors. The company is also planning to acquire EUV lithography technology, which is essential for the production of cutting-edge semiconductors, from imec. Utilizing these technologies, the company plans to start operation of a pilot production line at IIM-1 in April 2025, and begin mass production in 2027.

As society enters the full-fledged AI era represented by generative AI, power consumption in data centers is increasing. According to International Energy Agency, data centers are significant drivers of growth in electricity demand in many regions. After globally consuming an estimated 460 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2022, data centers’ total electricity consumption could reach more than 1,000 TWh in 2026. This demand is roughly equivalent to the entire electricity consumption of Japan. Updated regulations and technological improvements, including on energy efficiency, will be crucial to moderate the surge in energy consumption from data centers. (Source: Electricity 2024, International Energy Agency)

The 2nm node semiconductors that Rapidus aims to manufacture will be more advanced than conventional semiconductors, enabling not only improved processing performance but also dramatically reduced power consumption. Esperanto, meanwhile, has been developing products with superior energy efficiency for generative AI, HPC and edge devices.

By collaborating early on the co-optimization between design and manufacturing of next-generation semiconductors, the two companies aim to better enable the development of energy-efficient products for the AI era.

“The strategic partnership with Rapidus plays a key role in our expansion plans for Japan. Rapidus represents a new approach to leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing, and we are very impressed with the direction and speed at which they are operating. Along with our other partners in Japan, we hope our new relationship with Rapidus will extend the benefits of our energy efficient technology to a broader set of SoC designers,” said Art Swift, CEO of Esperanto Technologies.

“As part of our corporate philosophy, we will commit ourselves to further innovating toward a truly green society. As we enter the age of full-fledged AI, it is imperative to design and manufacture semiconductors with superior energy-saving performance, and we believe that this collaboration with Esperanto is a major step toward solving this issue,” said Dr. Atsuyoshi Koike, president and CEO of Rapidus. EE Times Asia

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