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Numonyx holds back Catania fab

Posted: 14 Nov 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:flash memory? storage? wafer fab?

The fate of the 300mm wafer fab planned by ST Microelectronics in Catania, Italy, and was later inherited by Numonyx earlier this year, will not be decided before 2010, said Philippe Berge, VP for Europe at the non-volatile memories venture between the Franco-Italian company and Intel Corp.

"The industry is going through difficult times and we are taking a cautious approach to our manufacturing strategy and capital investment," Berge told EE Times Europe at the Electronica congress in Germany.

The fab has been an empty shell for many years, and will remain so. "It is a matter of business justification," he added.

The company's objective is to have a mixture of in-house production and sharing of process development and production with partners like Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and Elpida Memory Inc. for its NAND and NOR devices, as well as embedded memories.

Numonyx makes NOR flash at a 200mm wafer fab in Kiryat Gat, Israel, which was Intel's Fab 18 and has now been called Fab 1. It has acquired the Ang Mo Kio wafer fab in Singapore and renamed that Fab 2.

Numonyx is developing NAND flash memory at a joint venture 300mm wafer fab in Wuxi, China, primarily owned by Hynix.

A major factor in this strategy is the rising emphasis on Numonyx for embedded memories, the latest versions of which, security enhanced parts with very fast programmability, the company said at the event. The devices are targeted at suppliers of STBs, wireless infrastructure gears and consumer electronic devices such as digital TVs.

Using Numonyx's Axcell flash technology, the devices will be the first embedded NOR parts to be created using an in-house developed 65nm process.

Berge said Numonyx is working on a 45nm process and NOR parts based on this. "We are at an advanced stage of development and this should be ready by early next year. The process will initially be deployed in-house at the company's Israel fab, which is equipped for 12-inch wafers. Once there is a need for further volumes, the deal with Elpida allows us to supply more parts using the 45nm process," he added.

Regarding phase change memories, Berge said Numonyx is getting back very promising feedback from the few customers we have so far sampled with our device.

At this early stage, he added, the main purpose is for potential customers to learn the benefits of this advanced memory technology, whose purpose is not necessarily to replace other non-volatile technologies, but to bring more functionality to non-volatile memories than what is currently available."

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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