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UMC goes solo on 65-nm process development

After the premature conclusion of an R&D arrangement with Infineon, foundry United Microelectronics Corp plans to go it alone in process development for the 65-nanometer process node.

Now the Infineon process development pact has ended at 90nm, instead of continuing onward to 65nm, as the two companies agreed to do in July, 2002. Infineon said it will also team up with its old partner IBM, which is working with Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd to develop 90nm, 65nm and possibly 45nm processes.

In the case of the IBM partnership, for 130-nm development, the foundry is still hurting from time lost on exploring the more tricky spin-on SiLK low-k dielectric instead of a more conservative CVD-based approach.

It will still take some time to determine if UMC can make up the ground it lost during 130-nm development. The foundry says it is ahead of rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in 90-nm development, and reinforced this assertion with an announcement this week that it had wrapped up 90-nm R&D with Infineon, producing chips with "functional complex circuitry." But analysts who watch UMC closely are skeptical.

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