Then they picked up a second-hand chip company, National Semiconductor! Remember that National had picked up second-hand IP company Fairchild long ago (Fairchild was never a great manufacturing company at that time, but like TI had great IP for years like Jean Hoerni's Planar Process patent. Recycling is common in this industry.
There is a thriving market in used semiconductor production equipment and I think you would find second-hand stuff in a lot of world class fabs. It makes a lot of sense to buy second hand tools if they are deemed sound. I'm not sure how much TI saved by buying the Qimonda equipment for $172 million, but I think it was very, very significant. What I found interesting is that even after getting the sweet deal on the Qimonda stuff, TI supplemented it with other equipment specific to the analog process, and even that stuff they bought second hand. The Value proposition was just too attractive to pass up.
Here's a confession that is probably obvious given that TI is listed as the source of all photos: like every fab tour I've ever been on, taken photos or video while inside RFAB was strictly forbidden. These photos were supplied by TI. Obviously they don't want to give away too much about their operation (even though I think that the actual roster of equipment purchased from Qimonda is probably a matter of public record in the bankruptcy court). Anyway, RFAB had the biggest observation window of any fab I've ever been in, but even still I'm not photos I took (had I been allowed to take them) would reveal much more than what we see here.
It was pretty cool though. The first real modern state-of-the-art fab I've been in, and it was impressive.
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