SSMC plan for 200mm lifetime extension

Systems on Silicon Manufacturing (SSMC), the Singapore foundry jointly owned by NXP and TSMC is to invest $30m in R&D and manufacturing to help extend its operational life potentially as far as 2025.

SSMC celebrates its tenth anniversary of silicon production this year and has delivered three million wafers since it opened, as one of the last 200mm digital logic-oriented fabs to be constructed in a market that is now dominated by more advanced 300mm facilities.

The investment is to be used to help continue the foundry’s move into mixed-signal and high voltage production as well as process geometries generally associated with 300mm production. By the end of the year, the company expects to introduce a 0.11µm process using 200mm equipment rather than the 300mm for which that class of processes was designed.

Since it opened, SSMC has extended its process technology from 0.18µm to 0.14µm and boosted capacity from the original plan of 30,000 wafers per month to 53,000.

“They are doing it within the confines of the original shell. The board thinks it doesn’t have to end there,” said Richard Thurston, vice president and general counsel at TSMC and an SSMC director. “The board thinks it can go to 60,000 wafers per month and there is land out there if needed.”

Jagadish CV, CEO of SSMC, said the company started work on its own process R&D in 2007: “We had a team of five originally and are up to 27 today. We are building that competency and capability.

“It’s definitely a challenge for a mainstream-technology fab to extend its life into the next decade or the next two decades. We are putting together a vision that ensures that SSMC is in a good position for the next decade or two. We are making products that go into the automotive market. At the moment, 6 per cent of our wafers go into automotive. The board has set a direction for that to go to 20 per cent,” Jagadish added.

“We are looking at opportunities for automotive silicon that go to 2020 or 2025. The other application we are looking at is the low-energy market, with controllers for fluorescent lighting.”

Thurston said: “This ‘more than Moore’ aspect very much distinguishes SSMC from many of the 8in fabs out there. They are in a unique position to make this work for 20 more years.”

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