PARIS – The Toulouse-based branch of Freescale Semiconductor Inc. (Austin, Texas) has permanently closed its doors this week, affecting some 500 employees.
Freescale said it will transfer manufacturing lines back to the United States and will only maintain R&D activities in Toulouse.
Actually, the fab closure is no surprise.
Back in 2009, as part of its transformation efforts, Freescale had announced its intention to close its 150-mm fab in Toulouse, comprising 821 employees, by the end of 2011, and to cease the Cellular Product activity by the end of 2009, numbering 236 employees.
Postponed several times, the fab closure had been fixed to Aug. 10.
To close a chapter, Denis Blanc, director of Freescale Toulouse, wrote in an e-mail, dated July 31, "I wish to thank all the manufacturing staff whose manufacturing mission ends today." Since then, employees had the permission to stay at home.
In total, 397 letters of dismissal are expected to be sent today (Aug. 10) by certified mail to dedicated employees. About a hundred employees will leave after they have dismantled the fab, according to AFP.
Freescale confirmed it will maintain its R&D unit in Toulouse, which employs about 500 people.
Freescale Toulouse Fab's 68,000-square-foot factory produced power management products for the automotive market and had manufacturing capabilities to the 0.65 micron technology node. Freescale Toulouse Fab started production in 1969.
Most of the automotive devices have large amounts of EEPROM or Flash on board as well as large analog circuits. No only is it difficult and expensive to develop new processes that include the combination of non-volatile memory and analog, it is often not cost effective since the memory and analog don't shrink like the digital logic.
Very sad news for all the people who worked in manufacturing there for over four decades.... By the way, @eewiz, per Gartner over 80% (!!) of all chips produced by foundries today are actually at the 65nm or higher nodes -- see Leibson's blog: http://eda360insider.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/where-is-the-mainstream-ic-process-technology-today-28nm-40nm-65nm/ Even by 2014, 40nm thru 28nm combined will only represent about a quarter of overall production.
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