SAN JOSE -- Chinese silicon foundry startup Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) here today (Sept. 30, 2003) outlined its bold 300-mm fab strategy, saying it plans to build three large-scale production facilities at the 110- and 90-nm nodes in Beijing, according to the top executive at the company.
SMIC's 300-mm plans are somewhat identical to the company's 8-inch (200-mm) fab strategy at its headquarters in Shanghai, said Richard Chang, president and chief executive of the company. In Shanghai, SMIC currently has two 8-inch front-end fabs, as well as a separate 8-inch copper/aluminum metalization facility, Chang said.
The company will emulate this fab strategy, but instead, the foundry provider will deploy 300-mm manufacturing technology and tools within its new Fab 4, 5, and 6 facilities in Beijing, he said.
The Fab 4 and 5 plants are front-end fabs for wafer processing, while Fab 6 facility is the backend metalization facility, he said. The Fab 4 plant will process 300-mm wafers at 0.11-micron technology, while the company dropped hints that the Fab 5 facility is possibly geared for the 90-nm node in the 2004 or so time frame.
"We are building the shells simultaneously," Chang said. "We're almost done with Fab 4 and 6," he said in an interview with Silicon Strategies after a presentation at the International Symposium on Semiconductor Manufacturing (ISSM) in San Jose.
SMIC is ramping up the 300-mm plants in an orderly fashion. The company's Fab 4 plant--which has been in the planning stages for months--will move into pilot production by the end of this year, with volume production slated in the second quarter of 2004, Chang said.
It is looking to process 2,000 wafers per month in the pilot-production stage, with plans to ramp up to 10,000 wafers per month by the end of 2004, according to the SMIC executive.
The Fab 4 plant will process 300-mm wafers, based on 0.11-micron technology. SMIC obtained the technology from Germany's Infineon Technologies AG, as part of a previously-announced agreement between the two chip makers.
Initially, the plant will manufacturer DRAMs, reportedly those from its technology partner in Infineon. Over time, SMIC will shift the production of the fab towards more logic-oriented chip products.
The SMIC executive dropped hints that the company plans to ramp up the so-called Fab 5 front-end plant early next year, but he noted that the production schedule depends upon market conditions. During the presentation, he hinted that the fab could be a 90-nm plant, but he did not elaborate.
Chang declined to comment on the company's overall capital spending plans in 2003. However, the company is expected to order $1 billion worth of 300-mm tools for its new fab in Beijing alone, according to a recent report from Susquehanna International Group LLP (see August 27 story).
To fund these costly projects, SMIC announced it has raised $630 million in funding through the issuance of Series C preference shares (see September 14 story).