Chipmakers Collaborate on Sub-Micron R&D

Rival chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices Inc. , United
Microelectronics Corp. and Infineon Technologies plan to tackle semiconductor development at the deep
sub-micron level.

The move, which is hardly a surprise in the fast-consolidating semiconductor
space, builds on existing two-way partnerships and provides further evidence
that rivals must team up on R&D because of the monumental expenditure needed
to create new chip technologies.

The three companies plan to collaborate on developing recipes for 65/45
nanometer manufacturing platform technologies. It specifically targets the
high-volume production of semiconductor logic products on next-generation
300 millimeter wafers.

Taiwan’s UMC, which is spending big on nanotech R&D investments, is the key
partner in the three-way collaboration. The trio initially plan to kick up
the research partnership at a UMC facility in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

UMC also has an existing arrangement with Germany’s Infineon to develop
130/90 nanometer process technology. The latest deal brings Infineon into
the process development program AMD and UMC announced earlier this year
targeted for the 65 and 45 nanometer nodes.

Infineon and UMC are also sharing the expenses of building a new factory in
Singapore that would use a new generation of 300-millimeter silicon wafers.
Calif-based AMD already has a partnership with UMC to build a factory to
make the 300-millimeter wafers. In a statement, the trio said the plant
would be completed in 2005.

“(Our) joint development work with UMC and Infineon is a prime example of
the type of cooperation that will come to lead the semiconductor industry in
the age of 300mm manufacturing,” said AMD chief executive Hector Ruiz.

While R&D hand-holding in the chipmaking space is nothing new, the
heightened activity lends further credibility to the nanotechnology
, which deals with the control of individual atoms
and molecules to create computer chips and other devices that are thousands
of times smaller than current technologies permit.

Earlier this year, Motorola, NEC, Philips Electronics, ST Microelectronics,
and the Semiconductor Manufacturing Company announced a five-year
collaboration pact to build technologies for the 90 and 65 nanometer nodes.
ST and UMC also have a separate partnership for research and development
efforts.

For complete coverage of the nanotechnology sector, see internet.com’s NanotechPlanet.

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