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UMC to begin 12in fab in China two months ahead of time

Posted: 10 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:UMC? IC Insights? SMIC? TSMC? 12in fab?

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), one of the world's leading foundries, has announced that it will start a joint venture 12in fab in China earlier than the company expected. Production will start around the end of 3Q16, a month or two earlier than UMC's original expectation for 4Q16, according to company spokesman Richard Yu. The speed of construction in China has been fast, he added.

UMC is partnering with Fujian Electronics & Information Group and the Xiamen municipal government. The total investment in the fab located in the city of Xiamen on the southeast coast of China is about $6.2 billion. UMC will hold about 21 per cent of the venture but will have six out of nine directors on the company board.

The fab will benefit from its location in one of the world's fastest growing chip markets, which has been chugging along at an annual rate exceeding 10 per cent, according to IC Insights. Although China's chip market is forecast to be worth $152 billion by 2019, the nation still imports most of its chips.

TSMC plans to set-up its first 12in wafer fab in China
TSMC has announced that it aims to build its first 12in fab in China to take advantage of the strong demand in the world's fastest growing chip market. The company said it submitted an application to Taiwan's Investment Commission to build a wholly-owned 12in fab and a design service centre in China's inland city of Nanjing.

China's largest foundry, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), may have been the world's only chipmaker to run at full utilisation during 3Q15 on strong demand from customers in China.

TSMC's 12in plans

While UMC's joint venture is the first 12in fab in China with investment from a Taiwan company, UMC's top rival, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) recently announced a plan to build its first wholly owned 12in fab in China, slated to start production in 2H18.

The fab plans signal a change for the Taiwan chipmakers, which have kept most of their production in Taiwan. The island accounts for about a fifth of the world's semiconductor production.

The Taiwan government restricts semiconductor investments in China on concerns the island will lose jobs and technology to China. Relations between Taiwan and China have been hostile since the Nationalist Party was overthrown militarily by the Communist Party in 1949 and fled to Taiwan in defeat. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has not ruled out the possibility of taking the island by force.

UMC's joint venture fab in Xiamen will make chips with geometries no finer than 40nm under Taiwan's regulations. UMC's most advanced process technology is at the 28nm mode.

- Alan Patterson
??EE Times

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