SANTA CLARA, Calif.--National Semiconductor Corp. here announced it has licensed 0.25-micron flash technology from Silicon Storage Technology Inc. (SST) for embedded memory applications in highly integrated ICs. In addition, National has agreed to act as a foundry for SST's SuperFlash-based product designs using its 200-mm wafer fab in South Portland, Maine, to produce chips for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.
"This agreement with SST provides our customers with the most advanced flash technology for embedded applications," said Brian L. Halla, president and CEO of National. "With the current capacity crunch in the flash market, this agreement assures our embedded flash product customers that our supply source is secured. We also gain a volume fab customer in SST, who can take advantage of our leading-edge wafer manufacturing facility."
National Semiconductor has been looking for ways to fill up its South Portland fab after deciding to pull out of the PC microprocessor arena last year (see May 5, 1999, story). Several foundry companies have reportedly consider taking a stake in the large 8-inch fab, but now it appears National is willing to provide silicon foundry services of its own with the plant.
SST will have access to more than 60,000 eight-inch wafers from the South Portland fab during the first year of production under the flash memory alliance. National will also pay SST a fee and royalties for use of the SuperFlash split-gate memory technology in its products. SST becomes the exclusive flash memory partner to National for quarter-micron embedded flash products.
"National's South Portland facility offers the benefits of a U.S.-based operation as well as cutting-edge 200-mm wafer manufacturing," said Bing Yeh, president and chief executive officer of SST.
SST is also in a foundry alliance with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC). National Semiconductor has been using SST's SuperFlash technology in products produced by TSMC. Under the new agreement, National said it hopes to expand its use of SuperFlash in highly integrated solutions for analog and Internet appliance applications.
National said its South Portland fab is capable of manufacturing at 0.18-micron and 0.15-micron process technology, making it an ideal candidate for scaling SST's SuperFlash technology to finer geometries. In announcing the flash alliance late Tuesday evening, the two companies indicated that their partnership could be extended to process technologies below 0.25 micron.