AUSTIN, Texas Silterra Malaysia is ready to offer customers an RF and mixed-signal version of its baseline 0.18-micron process, the latest effort by the young foundry to catch up with its bigger rivals TSMC, UMC and Chartered Semiconductor.
Silterra's mixed-signal process is intended to be compatible with the 0.18-micron RF process of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), said Cy Hannon, chief executive officer of Silterra Malaysia.
The move comes on the heels of an announcement this week by foundry X-Fab Semiconductor Foundries AG, which said it is expanding its RF and mixed-signal chip facilities.
"We have been in production with this RF and mixed-signal process for four or five months with several current customers," said Silterra's Hannon. The company will support the process starting in September with the release of a process design kit that includes device models and libraries supported by a suite of commercial EDA tools.
Steve Della Roccetta, executive vice president of Silterra, said his company is working with many wireless startups that are moving to single-chip designs which combine RF, mixed-signal and digital functions.
"The number of ASIC/ASSP designs incorporating analog or RF circuits will increase significantly over the next few years," said Jordan Selburn, ASIC analyst at iSuppli Corp. "We are seeing companies migrating from two-chip propositions requiring a baseband IC plus an external analog or RF front-end to a true system-on-chip solution."
The 0.18-micron Silterra RF process includes transistors with a maximum transistor frequency of 55 GHz.
Silterra's fab is operating at a $100 million run rate this year with 0.25-micron, 0.22-micron and 0.18-micron process capabilities. It can process 18,000 wafers per month, but that capacity is expected to increase to 22,000 wafer per month by December, Hannon said.
Compatibility with TSMC's process will provide Silterra's customers with "an opportunity for alternate sourcing," Hannon said. "We are creeping around the cracks of the big guys."