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TSMC to accelerate 90nm process ramp

Posted: 04 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:90nm? nexsys? wafer?

Amid a move to ramp up its 65nm technology, Taiwan Semiconductor Mfg Co. Ltd (TSMC) on Wednesday (Dec. 29) said that it will accelerate its 90nm fab capacity throughout 2005.

The silicon foundry giant is preparing a major capacity expansion within its two 300mm plants in Taiwan -- Fab 12 and Fab 14 -- in 2005.

TSMC's 90nm technology, dubbed Nexsys, is currently running in the first phase of the company's Fab 12 wafer plant. It will also be deployed in the second phase of Fab 12, as well as Fab 14, as those 300mm facilities ramp to production.

TSMC began 90nm volume production in the third quarter of 2004. Introduced back in 2002, TSMC's Nexsys 90nm process features copper interconnects and low-k dielectrics on 300mm wafer substrates.

The company is already delivering 90nm products to Altera Corp., Qualcomm Inc., and others. The company states that it has reached several thousand 300mm wafers per month production level using 90nm technology in the fourth quarter of 2004 and will ramp to higher volumes throughout 2005.

"TSMC expects that 90nm demand will increase at a rapid pace in 2005, across a range of applications in consumer, communications, PC and industrial markets," said Genda Hu, vice president of marketing for TSMC, in a statement.

The announcement may have been in response to Xilinx Inc. On Dec. 27 Xilinx claimed that it has shipped more than 1.5 million FPGA devices, based on 90nm technology.

The company's main foundry is TSMC rival United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC). Xilinx also recently named Toshiba Corp. as a foundry partner.

Major silicon foundries continue to move ahead with leading-edge 90nm and 65nm processes, but demand for the technologies appear to be miniscule -- if not disappointing, according to analysts. TSMC, for example, disclosed that only 1 percent of its third-quarter sales are based on its new and leading-edge 90nm process technology.

TSMC has already been doing 65nm development for at least a year. By the time it ramps its first 65nm manufacturing process technology into volume production, late in 2005, it will have cost about $1 billion to develop.

It also recently announced that it sees a necessity of putting up advanced processes in mainland China despite restrictions from the Taiwan government.

- Mark LaPedus

Silicon Strategies

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