Chinese foundry gets makeover, new ID
3/19/2013 2:45 PM EDT
SHANGHAI--Wuhan Xinxin Semiconductor Manufacturing, a Chinese foundry company that has maintained a relatively low profile in the West so far, came to Semicon China Tuesday (March 19) to introduce itself as an independent foundry startup, complete with a new identify.
Its makeover now a fait accompli, it has turned itself into XMC.
The company has a newly installed international management team. Roughly half of its executives have significant experience at multinationals such as Intel, IBM and Chartered.
XMC also announced an expanded partnership deal with Spansion on 32-nm flash memory production.
There are industry observers who have followed the ups and downs of Wuhan Xinxin since the early 2000’s and were aware of its ties with Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) at that time. They might hold a very different view of the Wuhan-based foundry today.
As though hoping to erase that memory, an XMC executive notes that the company “has been often misunderstood.” The executive, Walter Lange, stressed this point in an interview with EE Times. Lange, with 25 years of experience at IBM, is now responsible for XMC’s marketing and sales.
XMC today, Lange emphasized, is “not a sister company of SMIC.”
XMC’s perceived close ties to SMIC date back when the city of Wuhan built the foundry, breaking ground in 2006. At that time, SMIC offered to “manage” the foundry, and earned money by charging Wuhan a business management fee. While that looked like a cushy deal for SMIC in the beginning, industry critics recall that SMIC “managed” Wuhan Xinxin “half-heartedly” and brought disappointing results, failing to create a strong foundry presence.
XMC also claims to be different today because it’s not chasing down the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) or Globalfoundries Inc. XMC is set up to do foundry service that’s “anything but a mainstream offering,” said Lange.
Rather than competing head-to-head with TSMC on the bleeding-edge process technology race, XMC is focused on developing technology “with a twist,” as Lange put it. XMC sees its mission as close partnerships with selected customers from the get-go, while discussing manufacturing process requirements with them. “We customize our process technology for our customers,” Lange explained.
Many observers might falsely recognize XMC as yet another not-so-successful Chinese foundry located in the middle of nowhere, using hand-me-down tools. XMC is definitely not that, according to Lange.
Even though sometimes described as a “second-tier city,” Wuhan has a population of 10 million, said Lange, with a million college students. Located at the joint of the Yangtze and Han Rivers, Wuhan is at almost equidistant (two-hour flight) from Beijing or Shanghai.
Wuhan is at almost equidistant from Beijing or Shanghai