TI Qualifies Foundries For 65-nm Process
Texas Instruments is qualifying select silicon foundries for its 65-nm process as part of an aggressive ramp for the technology. Initially, TI (Dallas) said that it plans to qualify a pair of rival foundries for its 65-nm process: TSMC and UMC. TSMC and UMC are also separately racing each other to ramp up their own, respective 65-nm processes for customers, including TI's chip competitors.
"We're qualifying UMC right now and TSMC later this year," said Peter Rickert, platform manager for application specific products at TI, adding that the chip maker is also currently "bench marking" foundries for the 45-nm node.
For years, TI has utilized a dual approach in chip production. It has used both its own fabs as well as select foundries. At the 90-nm node, TI had three foundry partners, including UMC, TSMC and China's SMIC. UMC was the "lead foundry" for TI's 90-nm process.
It has not been decided if SMIC will be one of TI's 65-nm foundry partners, Rickert said. In total, TI is expected to ramp its 65-nm process in six fabs, including both its own plants and the foundries, he said.
Last year, TI began sampling its first 65-nm devices, a line of digital signal processors (DSPs) for cellular phones. For some time, the company said it plans to move its 65-nm process into production in the first part of 2006.
The company plans to sample devices based on its yet-to-be-announced 45-nm process in 2007, with production due out in 2008, he said. TI is “bench marking” foundries, but he declined to identify the companies.
Meanwhile, TI's foundry partners are also ramping up their own 65-nm processes. TI's baseband chip rival, Qualcomm, last month announced "early sampling" for its first 65-nm, cellular-phone chipset line, which claims to be two months ahead of its original schedule. The MSM6800 is manufactured on a foundry basis by TSMC (Hsinchu), it was noted.
Fu Tai Liou, president of UMC's U.S. subsidiary, said that the Taiwanese foundry provider is also sampling devices based on its own 65-nm process. UMC (Hsinchu) has two 65-nm customers, including Xilinx and an undisclosed company, Liou said.
One customer is qualified on UMC's 65-nm process, he said. "Our process is very competitive," he said.
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