TOKYO ( ChipWire)-- Toshiba Corp. said it will invest about $970 million to build a 0.18-micron fabrication facility to meet anticipated demand for system-on-chip (SoC) devices such as MPEG-4 and Bluetooth ICs. The company also cited wideband CDMA cellular phone services, scheduled to start in Japan next spring, as a reason for the fab's construction.
The company's investment of 100 billion yen will boost its system-on-chip (SoC) production capacity about threefold. The new fab will be built at the company's Oita semiconductor production works on the island of Kyushu. When fully operational, the new fab will expand the total capacity of the Oita works from today's equivalent of 12,500 eight-inch wafers per month to 35,000 wafers per month, the company said.
The new fab reflects Toshiba's new focus on SoC parts such as MPEG-4, Bluetooth, and DVD-ROM drive controllers. Toshiba has been working for MPEG-4 standardization and was an early backer of Bluetooth. Toshiba expects SoC devices to account for about 40% of its LSI device total in fiscal 2002.
"The new fab will be ready by next year when those chips such as MPEG-4 and Bluetooth are in real big demand," a Toshiba spokesman said.
In its first phase of construction, Toshiba plans to invest about $291 million in the fiscal year that began this month to build a two-story building with a 10,000-square-meter clean room next to the existing No.150 building at the Oita works. Construction will be completed next January, and volume production is slated to begin next April. The first phase will expand the total production capacity at Oita by 5,000 eight-inch wafers a month, to 17,500 wafers.
Toshiba intends to separate the multi-layer wiring process from the diffusion process at the new fab. Both of those processes are now housed in an existing Oita fab, but will be placed in the new fab to improve efficiency, the company said. In the future, Toshiba intends to make the existing fab a dedicated diffusion process fab, and to dedicate the new fab to the multi-layer wiring process. As a result, some of this fiscal year's investment of $291 million will be used to beef up the diffusion process at the existing fab.
The Emotion Engine device employed in the Playstation 2 gaming console is currently fabricated at the existing Oita fab, which is jointly operated by Toshiba and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. But the new fab will be use solely by Toshiba, according to the company spokesman.
The new fab continues Toshiba's shift away from DRAMs, where the firm is concentrating on producing lower volume of higher-end memory chips. By contrast, the cell-phone market has been hit by extreme shortages of all types of chips that are now commanding much higher prices.
It wasn't clear if the just-announced new Oita fab would be in addition to the $1.2 billion semiconductor capital investment plan announced earlier by Toshiba.
--Additional reporting by Jack Robertson of Electronic Buyer's News