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TI qualifies foundries for 65nm process

Posted: 05 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mark LaPedus? Texas Instruments? TI? foundry? 65nm?

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) is qualifying select silicon foundries for its 65nm process as part of an aggressive ramp for the technology.

Initially, TI said that it plans to qualify a pair of rival foundries for its 65nm process: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC). Both companies are also separately racing each other to ramp up their own respective 65nm processes for customers, including TI's chip competitors.

"We're qualifying UMC right now and TSMC later this year," said Peter Rickert, platform manager for application specific products at TI, adding that the chip maker is also currently "bench marking" foundries for the 45nm node.

For years, TI has utilized a dual approach in chip production. It has used both its own fabs as well as select foundries. At the 90nm node, TI had three foundry partners, including UMC, TSMC and China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC). UMC was the "lead foundry" for TI's 90nm process.

According to Rickert, it has not been decided if SMIC will be one of TI's 65nm foundry partners. In total, TI is expected to ramp its 65nm process in six fabs, including both its own plants and the foundries.

Last year, the company began sampling its first 65nm devices, a line of DSPs for cellular phones. For some time, TI said it plans to move its 65nm process into production in the first part of 2006. Rickert also disclosed that the company plans to sample devices based on its yet-to-be-announced 45nm process in 2007, with production due out in 2008. TI is "bench marking" foundries, but he declined to identify the companies.

Meanwhile, TI's foundry partners are also ramping up their own 65nm processes. TI's baseband chip rival, Qualcomm Inc., last month announced "early sampling" for its first 65nm, cellular-phone chipset line, which claims to be two months ahead of its original schedule. The MSM6800 is manufactured on a foundry basis by TSMC, it was noted.

Fu Tai Liou, president of UMC's U.S. subsidiary, on the other hand, said that it is also sampling devices based on its own 65nm process. UMC has two 65nm customers, including Xilinx Inc. and an undisclosed company, Liou said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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