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Renesas, TSMC working on advanced automotive chips

TOKYO -- Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics is collaborating with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to develop cutting-edge microcontrollers for self-driving and fuel-saving autos under an arrangement announced Thursday.

The chips will be fabricated using 28-nanometer process technology. Current state-of-the-art microcontrollers used in vehicles have 40nm line widths. By developing microcontrollers with even better performance, Renesas and its Taiwanese partner aim to pull further ahead of the competition.

Increasing performance will enable finer regulation of the amount of gasoline injected in the engine, boosting fuel economy. Self-driving cars with the new microcontrollers will gather information on nearby pedestrians and other vehicles faster and more accurately, improving safety. Autoparts makers have been seeking better microcontrollers because they would lead directly to improvements in vehicle performance.

The companies will start shipping samples to customers and taking orders in 2017. Mass production is targeted for 2020.

Manufacturing cutting-edge semiconductors in-house requires enormous capital outlays. Renesas has since 2012 developed cutting-edge chips with TSMC and outsourced production to that company, the world's largest semiconductor foundry.

(Nikkei)

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