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NEC revamps automotive strategy

Posted: 24 Feb 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Yoshiko Hara? microcontroller? NEC Electronics?

In a move to bolster its automotive microcontroller business, NEC Electronics Corp. said it plans to expand its Roseville, California wafer fab and close an assembly facility in Ballivor, Ireland.

The company said it aims to be the leading vendor of automotive microcontrollers by 2010, shooting for a 20-percent market share and surpassing Freescale Semiconductor Inc., the current leader.

NEC Electronics said it expects automotive MCU sales to total around $716 million for its fiscal year ending March 31. "Growing at a yearly pace of about 10 percent, our automotive MCU business will reach $1.2 billion in sales by 2011, acquiring about a 20-percent stake in the market," said J.J. Yamaguchi, EVP of NEC Electronics. To reinforce its automotive MCU business, NEC said it plans to reallocate, close and upgrade production facilities and strengthen its design teams in Europe and in the United States to increase overseas sales.

To support overseas sales, NEC plans to install a 200mm wafer line kitted out with a 0.15?m manufacturing process at its Roseville plant, which is now fabricating MCUs using 0.25?m and 0.35?m processes on 6-inch wafers.

To minimize costs, the company is transferring its entire 200mm wafer line from its Sagamihara plant to Roseville. The Sagamihara 200mm line, which has a manufacturing monthly capacity of 2,000 wafers starts, currently makes SoC devices for servers and communications systems.

A 300mm line in Sagamihara will continue to operate, NEC said.

Meanwhile, pilot production using equipment moved from Sagamihara is scheduled to begin at Roseville by September, with a monthly capacity of about 1,000 wafer starts using a 0.15?m process. With total investment of about $168 million, NEC Electronics said it will ramp up capacity to 6,000 wafers a month by 2008.

"Customers can rely on us if we have two production bases for MCUs, especially if one of them is closer to overseas customers," said Yamagauchi. "With these two bases, we'll have enough production capacity until 2011."

With front-end manufacturing split between two fabs, overseas assembly of automotive ICs will be concentrated on two facilities, one in Japan and one in Singapore.

The Irish facility produces 4 million units per month; the Singapore plant has a 6-million unit capacity. The Irish fab will be closed and 350 workers will be laid off by September. Most of the equipment will be transferred to Singapore. The Singapore fab will have a monthly capacity of 10 million units. NEC Electronics' main assembly fab in Fukuyama, Japan, produces 23 million units a month.

NEC said it plans to reinforce its U.S. and European development centers by reallocating engineers working for ASIC design to automotive work. NEC Electronics America's Dallas Design Center, which focused on ASIC design, has been restructured to focus on auto MCU design and development. NEC Electronics Europe will also strengthen its auto design resources at its European Technology Center in Duesseldorf, Germany.

- Yoshiko Hara
EE Times

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