TAIPEI, Taiwan Foundry United Microelectronics Corp said it foresees opening a new 300mm wafer plant in 2008.
The plant, located near the southern Taiwan city of Tainan, will have a capacity of 45,000 wafers per month. It will be UMC's third 300mm facility its first is also in Tainan (Fab 12A) and the second is in Singapore (Fab 12i). UMC expects about $5 billion to be spent when the tally is complete.
In March, the foundry also expects to complete construction of an R&D center in Tainan to research advanced nanometer manufacturing, the company said.
Fab spending in Taiwan looks ready to hold steady in the coming years, as foundries and memory makers splurge on new 300mm wafer facilities. Last month alone, Powerchip Semiconductor said it would team with Elpida Memory Inc to build four 300mm wafer lines in the next four to five years. The fabs will have a combined output of 240,000 wafers per month, and the project will eventually cost a whopping $13.9 billion.
At the same time, a few companies are seizing the chance to shift some production to China. With Taiwan loosening up on local companies making chips in China, a handful of firms have indicated they will invest in new fabs there or augment existing lines with more advanced technology.
The easing of restrictions came last month, after a years-long approval process. Some criticized the delay as paranoia on the part of Taiwan's government, which is cautious in its dealings with political and military rival China. Still, now that the way has been cleared, at least two companies, Promos Technologies and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., say they are ready to up the ante in China.
TSMC has been in China for about two years with a fab in Shanghai capable of running 0.35- and 0.25-micron designs. That will now increase to 0.18 micron. Promos will be taking its first baby steps in the mainland. Building is already underway for a 200mm wafer plant in Chongqing, where the local government will reportedly invest $200 million in to take a stake.