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Winbond plans 300mm wafer fab in 2005

Posted: 06 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:winbond electronics? dram? memory? lcd driver?

Looking to ride a recovery in the semiconductor market, Winbond Electronics Corp. is putting into motion plans for a long-awaited 300mm wafer fab that will come on line in late 2005.

The company will spend $1.47 billion on the fab, which it will build in the Taichung Science Park, a new industrial area in central Taiwan. The decision substantially boosts its 2004 capital expenditures by more than 10 times the original amount of $110 million, according to IC Insights.

Winbond will start construction in the third quarter of this year. In the fourth quarter of 2005, it will move into pilot production. Estimated capacity is 24,000 wafers per month, with the option to upgrade to 48,000 wafers per month in the first stage of construction. The fab will make memory chips based on 0.11?m process technology.

Once a major maker of DRAM in Taiwan, Winbond has slowly shifted focus to specialty memory products, such as pseudo SRAM, and logic devices, such as LCD drivers.

The company has mulled a 300mm wafer fab since at least 2001, and had anticipated that it would already have one in production by now. But the severity of the downturn, the loss of its technology partner, Toshiba, and logistical foul-ups with the location of a new fab, have all conspired to delay Winbond's initial plans.

In 2001, Winbond was originally scheduled to start construction of a $3.6 billion fab and bring the plant online in the first quarter of 2004, using a 0.11?m process for 1Gbit DRAM.

Rumors in Taiwan have also suggested that Winbond might team up with Sharp or Infineon to build the fab, but Winbond said Monday it would fund the fab on its own or through loans.

The timing of the fab's initial production might be risky. IC Insights is calling for a slight downturn of about 5 percent in 2005, in part because of a 53 percent increase in capital spending this year that it believes will lead to overcapacity. "We are not sure if there will be a downturn or not at that time, but the capacity will be used for 128Mbit or above pseudo SRAM and other specialty memory, so that should not be so sensitive to a downturn," said Wilson Wen, a spokesperson for Winbond.

Winbond also runs two 200mm wafer fabs and one 150mm wafer fab. With its 300mm wafer fab plans, the company joins a host of other Taiwanese manufacturers who have made the jump to larger wafers, including Nanya Technology Corp., Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., Promos Technologies Inc., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., and United Microelectronics Corp.

- Mike Clendenin

EE Times

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