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TI may be outsourcing 65nm to UMC

Posted: 13 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:baseband? chip? handset? GSM? 65nm?

Chipworks Inc., an engineering services company that specializes in deconstructing ICs, has found possible indications that Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has been outsourcing the manufacture of a 65nm baseband chip for the Nokia 2610 GSM handset to United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC).

The company has just completed a detailed analysis of Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA devices manufactured by UMC and Toshiba. "The UMC-fabbed structure has significant similarities to the Nokia/TI part," wrote Jim Morrison, product manager on the Chipworks website. At the same time the die is marked to show that TI provided the mask set, he added.

TI disclosed a plan to increase outsourcing in May 2006 when it announced a plan to work with Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing as a third foundry for 65nm production, and that it had qualified UMC in March 2006. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd was due to be qualified in Q3 of 2006 with Chartered qualified by the middle of 2007.

The report indicated that TI was favoring an outsourcing strategy at 65nm allowing it to focus on 45nm. Chipworks investigations could have thrown up the implementation of that strategy.

Morrison noted that although the TI/Nokia and UMC transistor cross-sections are strikingly similar, it is not absolutely certain that UMC fabbed the TI/Nokia device. He outlined three possibilities: UMC has used similar transistor structures to TI; TI and UMC have defined the process together including the use of a differential offset spacer; or the front-end was fabbed at TI and the back-end fabbed at UMC.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe

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