IBM, Chartered Forge Foundry Partnership

IBM Tuesday said it has inked a development and manufacturing deal that pools its resources with one of the world’s top three silicon foundries.

Under terms of the multi-year agreement, Armonk, N.Y.-based Big Blue and Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing say they will jointly develop 90 nanometer (nm) and 65nm logic processes for foundry chip production on 300-millimeter silicon wafers. The two companies also have the option to extend the agreement to include 45nm technology.

The agreement also includes a reciprocal manufacturing arrangement between
Chartered and IBM. Chartered will be able to offer its customers some capacity in IBM’s new 300mm chip manufacturing facility in the third quarter 2003 in East Fishkill, N.Y.

In turn, IBM expects to utilize some capacity in Chartered’s 300mm Fab 7 until late in the third quarter of 2004 in Singapore to help meet additional future capacity requirements.

The companies intend to make details of their 65nm development efforts known to customers in the fourth quarter 2003. Each company will have the ability to implement the jointly developed processes in its own manufacturing facilities.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

“IBM intends to further assist our customers in applying those technologies for real business advantage by providing complementary services and support. Our agreement with Chartered is about putting technology to work for our customers,” said IBM senior vice president and Technology Group executive John Kelly.

Historically, foundry customers were characterized as companies who completed their own chip designs and looked to high-volume, low-cost manufacturers to simply build wafers. IBM said the model is changing, however, as chip designers are finding it difficult to deal with the latest, more complex design technologies. Increasingly, they are depending on foundry suppliers to provide both advanced manufacturing processes and additional design support.

To assist foundry customers in designing with these technologies, IBM and Chartered have also agreed to work together with third-party providers of design tools and open-standard formats to help customers more easily move their products between the two companies for production.

“This is an exciting milestone for the foundry industry. It further validates Chartered’s belief that flexibility and openness are what the market wants,” said Chartered president and CEO Chia Song Hwee.

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