London RF Micro Devices, Inc. (Greensboro, N.C) is teaming with RF and mixed signal wafer foundry Jazz Semiconductor ( Newport Beach, Calif.) for silicon manufacturing and development. As part of the deal, RFMD is investing $60m in Jazz for a minority stake.
Jazz was spun out of Conexant Systems earlier this year as an independent fab focusing on analog and RF integrated circuits.
RF Micro Devices will obtain a guaranteed, low cost source of supply for wafers fabricated utilizing Jazz Semiconductor's manufacturing processes, including silicon germanium (SiGe), bipolar complementary metal oxide semiconductor (BiCMOS) and RF CMOS. The companies will work together on future wireless technology roadmaps, including joint process development and the optimization of these processes for fabrication of next-generation silicon RFICs.
An initial aim of the partnership is to help RFMD develop proprietary mixed-mode silicon technologies for its system-on-chip (SOC) integration roadmap.
Commenting on the partnership and investment, Jerry Neal, executive vice president of strategic development and a co-founder of RFMD, said "We believe this strategic relationship strengthens our competitive position as an integral part of our customers' supply chains by providing us with a guaranteed source of supply for high-performance silicon manufacturing capacity. Additionally, we expect our lower cost structure will enable cost reductions across our silicon product portfolio, while facilitating expansion in new markets and generating incremental growth opportunities in current markets, such as IEEE 802.11".
Neal, who will join the board of Jazz Semiconductor, added the arrangement would help RFMD improve cycle times and margins for the company's range of power amplifier (PA) modules.
"Many of the millions of PA modules we ship each month contain the industry's most advanced power control circuitry, which is manufactured under high-voltage CMOS processes and is currently sourced through traditional foundry relationships.
"By migrating to a strategic relationship with Jazz Semiconductor as a primary source of silicon, we expect a favorable impact on many of our highest running products. Looking forward, we expect a similar impact on our small signal, WLAN, Bluetooth and Polaris Total Radio products, said Neal."