SINGAPORE A general industry downturn apparently has yet to take the wind out of Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte. Ltd.'s sails, with executives stating that it remains business as usual for the company's most advanced plant.
As reported, silicon foundry specialist Chartered of Singapore recently posted better than expected third quarter results, but analysts and executives alike warned an unfavorable industry environment is likely to weigh on the foundry in the months ahead.
But the company is still moving full speed ahead with its 300-mm plant, dubbed Fab 7. The fab is company's growth engine.
Zadig Lam, Chartered's vice president of Fab 7 operations, told reporters that the company expected the pace of its ramp at the facility to stay steady or even accelerate in 2007, though he added
this would "all depend on the market situation."
Lam said Fab 7 was currently running at about 75-to-78 percent of capacity, beating the 70-percent utilization rate predicted in Chartered's most recent set of quarterly results.
The facility is also on track to begin shipping 65-nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) chips to customers such as IBM Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) in the second quarter of 2007.
K.C. Ang, senior vice president for fab operations, said the utilization rates across Chartered's facilities would average about 70 percent this quarter, with Fab 7 making a "significant" contribution to revenues.
He said Fab 7 meant Chartered was "very well positioned" to ramp up 65-nm production for clients like AMD, Qualcomm, among others, in 2007. Lam said Chartered would also be focusing heavily on its baseband business in 2007.
Still, the overall foundry business is heading into stormy waters. Silicon foundry vendors were once star performers in a booming sector shielded from the topsy-turvy cycles of the larger semiconductor industry.
But those days are gone. Buffeted by a slowdown in IC sales, the foundries now face lower-than-expected growth heading into 2007 and perhaps beyond a trend that could accelerate a long-awaited shakeout.