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Numonyx strategy puts off Catania fab shell utilization

Posted: 10 Apr 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Catania fab shell? Numonyx strategy? flash memory?

The 300mm M6 wafer fab in Catania, Italy, which has been an empty shell for many years, is going to have to wait a little while longer before being equippedjudging from a Numonyx manufacturing strategy that will use NAND flash to ramp fabs quickly before changing to a mixed-technology strategy to support NOR flash and other memory technologies.

Numonyx BV, the flash memory company formed March 31, 2008, by the pooling of the memory operations of Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics NV, has inherited the Catania shell from ST and there was an indication that the two companies together could invest in the plant sooner rather than later.

Numonyx makes NOR flash at a 200mm wafer fab in Kiryat Gat, Israel that was Intel's Fab 18 and has now been relabeled Fab 1. Numonyx has acquired the Ang Mo Kio wafer fab in Singapore and renamed that Fab 2. And Numonyx is manufacturing NAND flash memory at a joint venture 300mm wafer fab in Wuxi, China, majority owned by Hynix Semiconductor Inc. "We have plans to move to internally to 300mm but we have to get our legs under ourselves. The end of the decade to be manufacturing [at Catania]2010 is a reasonable time horizon," said Ed Doller, chief technology officer of Numonyx.

"Our plans call for a 300mm mixed technology factory. A factor in this is that NOR flash memory is an embedded technology. It is slower to ramp. So we plan to use NAND flash orders to ramp the factory quickly and then bring NOR in to keep the factory fully utilized," he said.

However, Doller acknowledged that Numonyx' lowest-cost source of NAND flash is likely to be the Wuxi fab. There is scope to increase capacity there through piece-meal investment and with the NAND flash markets in oversupply and prices weak it would probably not make sense to rush that or the opening of another wafer fab.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe

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