SAN FRANCISCO—Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has agreed to provide foundry services to another semiconductor vendor, but a spokesperson for the company said TI has no designs on beefing up its presence in the foundry business long-term.
TI will manufacture wafers for NOR flash memory specialist Spansion Inc. at one of two Japanese fabs that TI officially acquired from Spansion's former Japanese subsidiary Tuesday (Aug. 31), Spansion said.
A spokesperson for TI said the company agreed to honor an existing foundry services agreement between Spansion and its former Japanese subsidiary, Spansion-Japan Ltd., upon taking possession of the fabs.
TI does have a history of foundry service, having built chips for a handful of companies over the years, including Sun Microsystems Inc. and Ramtron Inc..TI served for years as the builder of Sun's Sparc processor, but Sun said in 2008 it would transition the Sparc business to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) for the 45-nm node and beyond. At the time Sun said TI would continue to test and build the 45-nm processors within TSMC's fabs.
In 2007, TI agreed to manufacture Ramtron's 4-Mbit FRAM line on a foundry basis using its 130-nanometer process. Last year, Ramtron entered into a foundry services agreement with IBM Corp.'s Microelectronics Group, but it is believed that TI and Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. are also still making chips for Ramtron.
Years ago TI manufactured x86 processors for Cyrix Corp., which was eventually acquired by National Semiconductor Corp.
Under the terms of the foundry services agreement, TI will provide foundry and sort for Spansion's flash products through June 2012 at the newly acquired facility in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan. As part of the deal, TI (Dallas) has obtained some 300-mm process tools from Spansion and a license to certain Spansion IP, including floating gate NOR unit processes, to enable TI to manufacture Spansion products, Spansion (Sunnyvale, Calif.). Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"This foundry agreement with TI will give us greater capacity and flexibility to meet specific customer requirements and underscores our commitment to providing industry-leading customer support," said John Kispert, president and CEO of Spansion, in a statement.
TI said Tuesday it completed its previously acquisition of two wafer fabs and equipment in Aizu-Wakamatsu that were previously operated by Spansion-Japan and acquired under a court-approved plan of reorganization. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The acquisition, first announced in July, includes one operating 200-mm fab and one non-operating fab capable of either 200- or 300-mm production. TI said the non-operating fab will be preserved for future capacity expansion. The company said it offered employment to all of the Spanson-Japan employees in Aizu.
The acquisition also includes 300-mm production tools, many of which are being shipped to Richardson, Texas, to help complete Phase II of TI's RFAB 300-mm analog wafer fab, TI said.