SINGAPORE Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer specialist Soitec started work Monday (Aug. 28) on a new 300-mm fab here that the firm's head said will play a key role in its growth strategy.
Andre-Jacques Auberton-Herve told a groundbreaking ceremony for the $448 million facility that Soitec needed to boost its Asian presence because the region has become "the epicenter of semiconductor manufacturing."
"The digital consumer electronic products that are increasingly driving industry growth and leveraging SOI are largely being manufactured in Asia," he added.
Auberton-Herve said Soitec currently exports more than 99 percent of its manufacturing output, and that Soitec is in "high gross mode" in the region, which now accounts for about 12 percent of revenues.
Fab construction is scheduled to wind up in the third quarter of 2007, but the CEO said wafer production would not start before mid-2008. About 500 workers won't be hired until 2009.
Soitec plans to ramp the facility to its full capacity of 1 million wafers annually as soon as possible, he said.
Soitec is counting on increasingly sophisticated consumer products such as the XBox and the Playstation 3 to create demand for SOI chips and therefore "more capacity and more fabs," Auberton-Herve said.