TOKYO -- Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics will close an underperforming domestic factory and shut down another production line, continuing a long consolidation for the world's second-largest supplier of microcontrollers used used in increasingly high-tech cars.
The Tokyo-based company on Friday announced the cutbacks to operations at its Yamaguchi and Shiga plants in western Japan, both of which belong to wholly owned subsidiary Renesas Semiconductor Manufacturing. The closures will take place in two to three years, and affected products will be discontinued or made elsewhere.
The Yamaguchi plant makes commodity-grade microcontrollers used in industrial machinery. Its six-inch silicon wafer production has been rendered inefficient by lines using bigger wafers that yield more semiconductors. Renesas intends to shift production to plants using wafers of eight inches or greater.
The closures will bring the chipmaker to a total of eight domestic factories, down from 22 at the end of March 2011, the month a massive earthquake rocked northeast Japan. The disaster hit Renesas hard, as did the yen's appreciation thereafter, prompting a rescue by a government-backed fund and industrial customers including Toyota Motor.
Now, with earnings rebounding and the fund reducing its stake, chipmaker has started to chase growth again.
The production line slated for closure at the Shiga plant makes power semiconductors and other products. Another line making laser diodes and other compound semiconductors will continue running.