SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Amid a merger agreement with NEC Electronics Corp., Renesas Technology Corp. is moving forward with its process technology alliance with Panasonic Corp.
Japan's Renesas and Panasonic will concentrate their ongoing joint development functions for leading-edge system-on-a-chip (SoC) process technologies at the Renesas Naka site. They will start operation of their 28- to 32-nm process development line installed at that site on Oct. 1, 2009.
Last year, Panasonic and Renesas moved to collaborate on 32-nm technology for SoC designs. By moving forward on their alliance, this raises questions about NEC Electronics' process alliance with IBM Corp. NEC and others are part of IBM's ''fab club,'' which is also devising a competitive 32-/28-nm process.
After several delays, Japan's NEC Electronics and Renesas have finally merged. The merged companies have several overlapping product lines and competing process alliances.
Meanwhile, Panasonic and Renesas are moving forward. The two companies are now developing 28-nm process technologies. They are targeting the start of mass production in the near future.
The two companies had agreed on joint development of next-generation SoC technologies in 1998, even before Renesas was formed, and have continued to develop semiconductor process technologies for the 90-nm, 65-nm, 45-nm, and 32-nm generations at the Renesas Kitaitami site.
One result of this joint effort, which was achieved in October 2008, was the development of interconnect technology using both transistor technology that has a metal/high-k gate stack structure and ultralow-k materials for the 32-nm system SoC process.
In July 2009, this collaboration completed development of an SRAM cell using a metal/high-k gate stack structure for the 28-nm process. Now, based on these results, the two companies will start operation of that line to carry out joint development of full integration technology using 28-nm process manufacturing technologies in the 300-mm wafer development line newly installed at the Renesas Naka site.
In the development line at the Naka site, the two companies have installed new production equipment in addition to having transferred part of the development line equipment from the Renesas Kitaitami site. By carrying out this development in the wafer size that will actually be used in mass production, the two companies are aiming at achieving a smooth transition to mass production and reducing development costs and time.