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Chip Foundry Unveils Advanced Collaboration Tools

Semiconductor foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) Wednesday, still feeling the effects of a listless market, unleashed a new Internet-based design collaboration platform that it said would reduce document preparation lead-time from days to less than an hour.

Dubbed DocuFast, the searching and grouping service provides automated design document preparation, maintenance and sharing capacity. It consists of a suite of prepackaged and verified design-related technology documents specific to TSMC's technologies, including Design Rule Manuals, Spice Models, DRC (Design Rule Check) command files, LVS (Layout vs. Schematic) command files, and RCX (RC Extraction) files.

TSMC said the service will allow designers to compile and store documents specific to their projects in a virtual reference area, and re-work on design can be reduced through early version change notification.

"DocuFast is a key online tool from TSMC to help designers speed and simplify their interaction with the industry's first true design collaboration platform," said Genda Hu, vice president of marketing for TSMC. "This latest advance addresses one of the most difficult problems that all the designers are facing today. Not only because of the technology complexity which results in many different documents, but because of the frequent engineering changes, which results in many different versions of documents."

The service helps designers create their design document packages by leading them through a series of steps. Designers can then share their DocuFast document packages with other design team members. The service will automatically mail notification of future Engineering Change Notices (ECNs) for specific documents to all members sharing DocuFast document packages. The service also includes up-to-date fact sheets for more than 40 TSMC technologies, ranging from 0.35-micron to 0.13-micron line widths, as well as CMOS and BiCMOS logic, mixed signal, silicon germanium, Flash, Emb1TRAM embedded memory and image sensor technology.

But while the foundry is attempting to make itself more inviting to designers, it is also facing the reality of the long-languishing semiconductor market. The company said Wednesday that it will cut its estimated output capacity from 10,000 300-mm silicon wafers per month by December 2002 to about 5,000 wafers per month.

The company explained that the weak economy has hampered its efforts to apply advanced process technologies to manufacturing 300-mm wafers. The capacity downgrade is the second by TSMC this year. Citing weak demand in the 300-mm segment, TSMC also said it would slow the ramp of its second 300-mm wafer plant.

However, the firm is continuing expansion in other areas. It is looking to build another 200-mm wafer plant in Shanghai, and applied to the Taiwan government for permission earlier this week.

Meanwhile, TSMC's biggest rival, UMC, is forging ahead with its 300-mm wafer plans. On Monday, it united with AMD to build a 300-mm manufacturing facility in Singapore, using advanced process control technology.