WOODSIDE, Calif.—Deca Technologies Inc., a startup backed by Cypress Semiconductor Inc. and SunPower Inc., came out of stealth mode Wednesday (Nov. 9) to describe its initial focus on providing wafer-level chip scaling packaging (WLCSP) services to semiconductor companies through a process that company representatives say is dramatically faster and substantially less costly than what is currently available on the market.
T.J. Rodgers, president and CEO of Cypress and chairman of Deca, said the company's manufacturing advantages stem largely from its relationship with SunPower, the former Cypress-back solar wafer manufacturer. Deca established its initial process line within SunPower's manufacturing facility in the Philippines, where it benefited from the manufacturing know how of SunPower, which builds PV modules using a continuous flow manufacturing process that Rodgers said costs a fraction of what it costs to produce a conventional semiconductor wafer.
"The company would be very much less well off if they weren't little brother to SunPower," Rodgers said.
Tim Olson, Deca's president and CEO, said Deca mapped its WLCSP process to SunPower's PV manufacturing process as much as possible, though it had to scale up to 300-mm wafers and deal with tighter linewidths than SunPower's solar modules. Two-thirds of the equipment in Deca's process line is custom made by gear manufacturers that ordinarily don't sell to the semiconductor industry, Olson said, including an unconventional lithography technology that he declined to describe.
But because of the use of unconventional lithography technology, Deca doesn't need photomasks and doesn't have to pass this cost along to customers, said Steve Hanson, former president and CEO of On Semiconductor Corp. and a longtime executive at Motorola Inc., now a member of Deca's board of directors. Olson said Deca's process is designed to go from design to manufacture in less than 60 minutes.
According to Olson, Deca's goal is to achieve a WLCSP manufacturing cycle time that is less than 20 percent semiconductor assembly and test service (SATS) vendors currently offer—three days compared to 17. Olson said Deca believes it can achieve this goal by late 2012 or 2013.
"We have a cost structure that is disruptive," Olson said.
But Olson made no bones about the fact that Deca will not cut its margins to razor thin levels or attempt to compete on cost alone. "We are not about low pricing," Olson said. "We aren't going to win in the market for chip scale packaging because we offer the lowest cost. That is not who we are. We are a technology leader in CSP."
Risto Puhakka, president of market research firm VLSI Research Inc., said Deca "looks pretty promising." But he said time will tell if Deca can deliver on this promise. For customers, trusting an upstart like Deca with processed wafers that could be worth $10,000 each is no slam dunk, he said.