The Suzhou, China-based pure-play foundry He Jian Technology -- which reportedly has close ties to United Microelectronics Corp. -- is ramping up its lines, using 0.18-micron technology to run about 10,000 wafers per month.
He Jian is trying to keep an ultra-low profile, possibly because of its alleged ties to the Taiwan foundry. The government here is still wary of letting its top companies in the semiconductor sector freely invest in Chinese ventures, fearing that it will quickly lose its technological advantage.
Last year the Taiwan government approved the transfer of 0.25-micron technology to China, but only after a lengthy approval process. UMC has not received such approval, nor has its main rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Yet both have moved ahead with their plans in China. TSMC is building a plant in southern Shanghai, while UMC is widely regarded as the money and expertise behind He Jian.
Currently, He Jian is working closely with several Suzhou-based IC design houses that are run by Taiwanese management. Products range from LCD drivers to DVD chips and DRAM, said a government official who requested anonymity.