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SMIC to manufacture Qualcomm chips in BiCMOS

Posted: 31 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Qualcomm? Mobile Station Modem? Semiconductor Manufacturing International? SMIC? Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing?

Expanding its presence in China, Qualcomm Inc. disclosed last week a foundry agreement with Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC).

Under the terms, Chinese foundry provider SMIC will make Qualcomm's chips based on a specialized BiCMOS process technology at its 200mm fab in Tianjin, China. The two companies dropped hints that the deal revolves around cellular-phone chips and power-management ICs.

In May SMIC said that its subsidiary, Semiconductor Manufacturing International (Tianjin) Corp., entered into a $300 million, five-year loan agreement with various banks. The proceeds of the loan would help to expand the capacity at SMIC's fab in Tianjin. In 2003 SMIC originally acquired that fab from Motorola Inc.

"This strategic agreement with SMIC will allow Qualcomm to leverage the foundry's operation and management expertise in mixed-signal technology manufacturing and supply chain management to serve our customers in China and around the world," said Sanjay K. Jha, president of Qualcomm's CDMA Technologies unit, in a statement.

The deal is aimed to expand its presence in China. In 2003, Qualcomm announced plans to invest up to $100 million in Chinese companies engaged in the development and commercialization of CDMA-based products, applications and services. In March of this year, the company announced the joint founding of TechFaith Software China Ltd. to focus on the development of application software for mobile devices.

It also expands Qualcomm's list of foundry providers. At one time or other, the cell-phone chip maker has used foundry services from IBM, Intel, Samsung, TSMC, UMC, and now, SMIC.

Recently, Qualcomm announced "early sampling" for its first 65-nm, cellular-phone chipset line. The company's previously-announced Mobile Station Modem (MSM) 6800 is a chipset geared for handsets based on cdma2000 1xEV-DO technology. The MSM6800 is manufactured on a foundry basis by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC).

TSMC and UMC are the main foundries for Qualcomm. Last year, Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. extended their foundry partnership and the Korean company will start making the latest generation CDMA and W-CDMA wireless chipsets for Qualcomm.

Qualcomm's rival is also making headlines. Matsushita and NEC Corp. are teaming with cell-phone rival Texas Instruments to form a mobile phone joint venture that will share R&D activities. The Japanese companies want to use the deal to become global wireless players.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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