SAN JOSE -- Hoping to close the gap on its silicon foundry rivals, Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte. Ltd. will shortly begin to install the equipment for its initial 300-mm wafer fab, with plans to accelerate the production ramp in the plant.
Chartered will begin installing the fab tools in its 300-mm plant next month, as part of its planned effort to move the Fab 7 facility into production by the third quarter of 2003, said Bruno Guilmart, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the silicon foundry provider.
In a phone interview with SBN during the company's "TechForum" event in Boston on Tuesday, Guilmart also said the Singaporean foundry vendor plans to "accelerate the production ramp" in the fab. On Thursday, Chartered will host another "TechForum" conference in San Jose.
To accelerate its 300-mm efforts, Chartered is working with its tool vendors to run and de-bug 300-mm test wafers, he said. The wafers are not being run within Chartered's own fab, but rather the products are being tested within its various tool vendors worldwide, he added. This, in turn, will enable the company to get its 300-mm fab up and running more rapidly, he pointed out.
The move is part of an effort to close the 300-mm gap with its foundry rivals, mostly notably IBM Corp.'s Microelectronics Division, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), and Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), according to analysts.
Chartered is still scrambling to get its 300-mm fab off the ground. Early last year, Chartered announced it was delaying the start up of its new Fab 7 in Singapore and reworking the plan to turn the facility into a 300-mm wafer fab instead of a 200-mm plant (see Jan. 29, 2001 story).
Then, in mid-2001, the company said it was postponing the start up of Fab 7 one year, until 2003, because of the severe downturn in the chip foundry business (see July 17, 2001 story).
On the other hand, the current and severe downturn may be playing in Chartered's favor--at least in the 300-mm market. Last week, TSMC cut its overall output within its 300-mm fab due to soft demand, (see Sept. 11 story) but rival UMC denied reports that it would follow suit (see Sept. 13 story).
Guilmart insisted that Chartered is on track to move into production with its Fab 7 plant in the third quarter of 2003. The company is also on track to roll out its 90-nm process technology by the fourth quarter of next year, he added.