The U.S. government has a vested interest in making sure that facilities like the Austin fab remain viable. But, for this, the government depends on healthy private industry.
"The government doesn't want to do be the in foundry business," Patti said. "They try very hard not to be in that business."
Jon Scadden, president of supply chain management provider Strategic Solutions Inc., is the creator of the American MiniFoundry initiative. The goal of the initiative is to create a secure facility on U.S. soil dedicated to the development and low-volume manufacturing of advanced ICs on 200- and 300-mm wafers for critical defense and military applications. The iniative was created to respond to the trend in offshoring of semiconductor manufacturing, which Scadden said has created a DoD supply chain with inadequate supply and riddled with counterfeit and compromised chips. The initiative is currently working to secure financing and legislative backing for the project.
According to Scadden, SVTC's fab closure announcement left many of its customers scrambling, unsure if they could even get into the fab to get the parts they had there out. He applauded Tezzaron's acquisition of the fab. "I am glad they are stepping up," Scadden said.
Patti said Tezzaron spent a lot of time in the days leading up to and preceding the acquisition of the fab talking to SVTC's customers, re-assuring them that Tezzaron plans to pick up where SVTC left off as a foundry source. According to Patti, SVTC's decision to part with the fab was the result of external factors, not the foundry's business model. "It is a viable business model," Patti said.
"I think everyone involved in this really comes out a winner," Patti said. "It's unfortunate for previous owners that it didn't work out for them."
Patti said Tezzaron views the Austin fab as a strategic asset. "It is one of the best places in the world to get this kind of stuff done," Patti said. "The factory down there bridges the research and development into real commercial production."
@resistion- this is obviously pretty specialized stuff. It may seem like the number of foundry players is increasing, but it's not necessarily so.
I bounced your question off Bill McClean of IC Insights. He said:
"There is an occasional startup in pure-play and IDM foundries but it is offset by pure-play mergers (e.g., HHNEC and Grace, GF and Chartered, etc.) and IDMs exiting the foundry business. Overall, I don't think the total number of companies involved in foundry is changing much."
IC Insights tracks more than 20 pure play foundries and at least 26 IDMs that do some foundry work.