TOKYO -- Toshiba will mass-produce system chips for automatic driver-assist systems, likely for use in vehicles Toyota will release in fiscal 2015.
The chips will analyze images captured by vehicle-mounted cameras and identify traffic signals, pedestrians and other environmental features to help the driver avoid danger on the road even when visibility is limited.
Toshiba plans to kick off mass production at its Oita plant in 2015. The chips will first be shipped to car electronics manufacturer Denso, which will put them in car safety systems and supply the finished products to Toyota.
Toshiba had developed system chips for vehicle-mounted cameras before. But those chips had trouble accurately identifying images in bad weather and other visibility-impairing situations. So the company boosted the chips' recognition ability by more than 10 times.
Major players in the market include Israel's Mobileye and U.S.-based Texas Instruments. Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics will also begin production in 2016. Toshiba hopes to beat the competition by highlighting its advanced image-processing technology and other such features.
Toshiba booked a record operating profit of 238.5 billion yen ($2.2 billion) from its semiconductor business in fiscal 2013, thanks to strong demand for NAND flash memory chips. But its system chip operations remain in the red. It hopes to boost high-function products, such as auto-related chips, to turn a profit by fiscal 2015.
Other Japanese companies are also struggling with their system chip businesses. Renesas Electronics is undergoing structural reform, while Panasonic and Fujitsu have decided to consolidate operations.