ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- Agere Systems Inc. and RF Micro Devices Inc. today announced plans to jointly develop and manufacture high-performance ICs for next-generation digital cellular phones and other communications products. The development work will focus on the use of silicon-germanium (SiGe) in radio-frequency (RF) chips, but the two companies said they will also leverage other silicon processes from Agere--formerly Lucent Microelectronics.
As part of the alliance, RF Micro Devices will invest $58 million over the next two years in Agere's 8-inch wafer fab in Orlando, Fla., and gain access to its production capacity. The investment will be used to upgrade the facility's cleanroom space and purchase new chip-making equipment, which will initially be made available to the Greensboro, N.C., company for production of products.
The partnership aims to accelerate the advancement of SiGe technology and "develop more highly integrated wireless chips with better performance and lower power consumption," said Greg Waters, vice president of Agere's Wireless Business Unit in Allentown.
"Together, the two companies will work to accelerate the delivery of key semiconductors required for the deployment of next-generation wireless multimedia services on public and private networks, and lower the overall cost of complete wireless component solutions to our customers," Waters said.
The two companies said they expect to start production under the alliance in the fourth quarter of 2001. RF Micro Devices plans to deploy engineers to the Orlando site, and the two companies said they will create an RF technology center for R&D of chip processes and design methodology.
The alliance expands an existing relationship between the two companies, which have been cooperating on chip sets for digital cell phones that bundle power amplifiers with other ICs for handset solutions. "We believe the alliance will enable RF Micro Devices to help define and develop next-generation silicon processes for wireless applications, while providing a framework for our two companies to collaborate on the development of new wireless products," said Jerry Neal, executive vice president of marketing and strategic development of Greensboro-based RF Micro Devices.