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Chartered, IBM launch design alliance

Posted: 29 Mar 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:chartered semiconductor? ibm? ip libraries? artisan components? virage logic?

Chartered Semiconductor Mfg Ltd and IBM Corp. announced a design enablement program on Wednesday (March 24, 2004) that will allow chip designers to use a common set of IP libraries for designs, starting at the 90nm node.

The goal is for customers to create designs that can be manufactured either at Chartered or IBM, said Kevin Meyer, Chartered's VP of marketing and services. The two companies announced a process technology development agreement more than a year ago to create a "process exact" capability.

As a first step, foundation libraries from Artisan Components Inc. and Virage Logic Corp. are available now for download by designers. Other EDA and IP vendors, as well as design services companies, are expected to join the enablement program later, Meyer said.

Samsung Electronics and Infineon Technologies are part of the four-way process development agreement at East Fishkill, N.Y., and they could provide further sources of manufacturing for companies seeking foundry options.

Dataquest analyst Jim Hines, who tracks the foundry industry, said the announcement is "significant because it creates, probably for the first time, true portability of designs" between IBM's existing 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New York, and Chartered's Fab 7, a 300mm facility now in the process of being outfitted.

Many foundries are attempting to make their processes match as close as possible to foundry industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., which has more than $5 billion in revenues. But porting a design from TSMC to another foundry is not without costs in time and engineering resources. Chartered and IBM last year each had foundry revenues in the $800 million range, with Chartered's revenues growing by 50 percent last year as it brought on additional capacity at 0.18- and 0.13?m design rules.

John Martin, VP of strategic alliances at Chartered, said its customers now have the capability to develop prototype designs at IBM's facility that later could be mass-produced at Chartered. About 40 Chartered process engineers are now working at IBM's East Fishkill facility. About half of them will return later this year to launch the jointly developed 90nm process.

By the end of next year, Chartered expects to have about 9,000 wafer starts per month at its 300mm fab, roughly divided between 0.13?m and 90nm design rules, said Chia Song Hwee, president of Chartered.

Dataquest analyst Hines said the Chartered-IBM relationship may prompt TSMC's customers to "demand better portability" options from TSMC. During the recent downturn, TSMC held relatively firm to its wafer prices, and some customers may turn to Chartered and IBM, he said, noting that IBM has been aggressive in its pricing as it seeks to establish its foundry business. The partners have a complementary relationship, as Chartered emphasizes volume customers while IBM has a tighter focus on leading-edge designs, Hines said.

A TSMC spokesman noted that it has had an active design service alliance program in place for the last five years, with libraries, EDA tools and design verification support.

- David Lammers

EE Times

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