Plessey returns after fab purchase
The name Plessey Semiconductors has returned to the electronics business after an absence of more than ten years following the purchase of the former Plessey fab near Plymouth from X-Fab UK by Swindon-based Plus Semi.
The semiconductor manufacturing facility in Roborough, near Plymouth currently produces eight-inch wafers for external customers in a foundry business model on 0.35µm CMOS process technologies. Plessey is transferring its bipolar process technologies developed at Swindon for both silicon and silicon-on-insulator substrates to its Roborough facility. The transfer of these processes is scheduled for completion in 2010. Both the CMOS and the bipolar process technologies will be used to support a set of existing foundry customers. However, Plessey Semiconductors said it aims to follow in its namesake’s footsteps by developing and supporting a range of high performance analog and mixed-signal semiconductor products.
“The historical significance of what we are doing is not lost on the management and employees of our new business,” said Michael LeGoff, managing director of Plessey. “A large proportion of our employees started their careers in Plessey working in the various sites around the UK. We see this announcement as a return to our roots. This is a business model that addresses a market that we know very well – designing and manufacturing a set of high technology semiconductor products that competes with any semiconductor company in the world.”
Paul James, commercial director of Plessey, added: “Our positioning addresses the critical and immediate requirements we have identified in the market for our high performance analogue technology and products. We have been receiving very positive responses from the market about our plans to support both our existing foundry customers and to engage new customers with exciting new product releases. The first of these product families is on schedule for release later in 2010.”
The UK’s South West Regional Development Agency will part-fund the project by providing nearly £1m under the Grant for Business Investment scheme when the deal is completed.
The name Plessey disappeared from the UK when Mitel bought GEC Plessey Semiconductors in 1998. Plessey’s former power semiconductor business was sold to Lincoln-based Dynex. Mitel later renamed itself to Zarlink, ultimately selling the Roborough plant to German foundry X-Fab. Plus Semi was formed when managers formed a consortium to buy the former Plessey fab at Swindon from MHS Electronics, which went into administration in early 2009.