SAN JOSE--The joint photomask venture between AMD, DuPont Photomasks, Micron, and Motorola has quietly re-structured its operations, transforming the R&D unit into a production mask shop, it was learned.
The venture, called the Reticle Technology Center (RTC), was strictly an R&D operation to develop advanced photomasks for the 130-nm node and beyond. Formed in 1997, the Round Rock, Tex.-based venture was equally owned and operated by Advanced Micro Devices Inc., DuPont Photomasks Inc., Micron Technology Inc., and Motorola Inc. RTC operates near DuPont Photomasks' headquarters in Round Rock.
Sources believe that RTC was actually dissolved, when the agreement between the parties lapsed at the end of 2002. But a spokesman for DuPont Photomasks denied that RTC has been dismantled, saying the operation remains a viable entity.
"It's not dissolved," the spokesman said. "In the past, RTC was a cost sharing venture between the various parties. Now, it's an extension of the R&D agreement. We tacked on a production piece."
On Tuesday, SBN erroneously reported that the RTC was no longer a research facility. In reality, however, the primary focus of the RTC is still on R&D, according to the spokesman for DuPont Photomasks. But at the same time, the unit also has "supply agreements to provide leading-edge masks to our partners," according to the spokesman.
AMD, DuPont Photomasks, Micron and Motorola will still each hold a 25% stake in RTC, now known as RTC-III. DuPont Photomasks will begin to recognize revenues from the RTC plant, implying the company is solely operating the facility.
The move to turn RTC into a production arm for DuPont Photomasks makes sense, given that the company is involved in another new and more advanced R&D venture. Last year, AMD, Infineon, and DuPont Photomasks announced plans to set up a mask-making venture in Dresden, Germany. The venture, Advanced Mask Technology Center GmbH & Co. KG (AMTC), will develop masks at the 90/65-nm process generations and below (see May 16, 2002 story ).
Micron is not involved in this venture, reportedly because the U.S. DRAM giant constructed its own mask shop last year. Others are also going the captive mask-making route, including Intel Corp. (see Jan. 24 story ).