LONDON – Crocus Technology Inc., a developer of MRAM technology, and Rusnano, a nano-technology investment fund, have closed an agreement to create an MRAM manufacturing company, with a combined investment totaling $300 million, the companies said on Tuesday (May 17).
Crocus and Rusnano will form Crocus Nano Electronics (CNE), to build an advanced MRAM facility in Russia, capable of manufacturing medium to high density MRAM products based on Crocus' Thermally Assisted SwitchingTM (TAS) MRAM technology at 90-nm and 65-nm lithographies. Rusnano is the Russian government investment fund for nanotechnologies.
Approximately $125 million will be invested in the first year for setting up CNE's MRAM facility in Russia. In addition, Rusnano along with Crocus' existing investors CDC Innovation, Ventech, IDInvest Partners, NanoDimension, and Sofinnova Ventures will make an equity investment of $55 million into Crocus.
An additional $120 million is slated to be deployed in subsequent years to increase production capability of the MRAM facility. Further investment to support upgrades to 45-nm and finer lithographic processing is also incorporated into this agreement.
The Russia-based CNE facility will utilize Crocus' technology to create the first dedicated magnetic memory wafer fab in the world capable of high volume manufacturing of MRAM devices on 300-mm wafers with 90-nm and 65-nm feature sizes.
The factory will be designed to add MRAM specific processing layers to standard CMOS foundry wafers. The production facility is scheduled to be in operation within two years and will be capable of producing up to 500 wafers per week.
Expanded capacity of up to 1,000 wafers per week is anticipated under a second phase of investment. In addition, CNE and Crocus plan to create a Learning Center and a Development Ecosystem for advanced memory design and production in the Russian Federation.
Crocus will invest over $5 million initially into Russian research organizations to develop advanced manufacturing solutions. This research investment will expand over time to include system-on-chip (SOC) capabilities for secure memory, network processing, and advanced computing.
Products manufactured by CNE will be marketed and sold worldwide by Crocus, excluding Russia and other former CIS states, while CNE will market directly within the former CIS.
The CNE joint venture will be complementary to Crocus' previously announced wafer foundry partnership with TowerJazz, which has entered the final qualification stage, with production ramp of 130-nm MRAM devices planned for late 2011. In addition, Crocus will continue to work with SVTC, its process integration R&D partner in San Jose, Calif., to develop key manufacturing process steps to be used by CNE.
Crocus, originally founded in Grenoble in 2004, to commercialize magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM) research conducted at the Spintec laboratory in Grenoble. The company has subsequently relocated its headquarters to Sunnyvale, Calif., but retains its engineering base in Grenoble.
Rusnano is involved with Sitronics JSC (Moscow, Russia), parent company of Russia's leading indigenous chip company Mikron, and its on-again, off-again plans for a 300-mm wafer fab. Rusnano has also backing a deal to provide $700 million for Plastic Logic Ltd. to help it build a plastic electronics manufacturing line in Russia.
Related links and articles:
Wall Street Journal report
Russian tech probes Silicon Valley interest
Plastic Logic gets $700 million in Russian deal
Optogan opens HB LED factory in St.Petersburg
Tower, Crocus embed MRAM in 130-nm CMOS