LONDON RF Micro Devices Inc. has signed a manufacturing and development pact with wafer foundry Jazz Semiconductor Inc. (Newport Beach, Calif.), and is investing $60 million to take a minority stake in Jazz as part of the deal.
Jazz was spun out of Conexant Systems Inc. earlier this year as an independent fab focusing on analog and RF integrated circuits.
The deal assures RF Micro Devices (Greensboro, N.C) of a source of supply for wafers fabricated in Jazz Semiconductor's manufacturing processes, including silicon germanium, BiCMOS and RF CMOS. The companies will work together on future wireless technology road maps, including joint process development and the optimization of these processes for fabrication of next-generation silicon RF ICs.
An initial aim of the partnership is to help RF Micro Devices develop proprietary mixed-mode silicon technologies for its system-on-chip (SoC) integration road map.
Jerry Neal, executive vice president of strategic development of RF Micro Devices, 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 RF Micro Devices 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," Neal said. "Looking forward, we expect a similar impact on our small signal, WLAN, Bluetooth and Polaris Total Radio products."