Welsh councils sign to own chip foundry

September 21, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
A signing ceremony has taken place between Welsh local authorities, the UK government and compound semiconductor wafer supplier IQE plc (Cardiff, Wales) to agree to the building of compound semiconductor foundry in Newport, South Wales.

The signing, on September 11, followed a decision by the Cardiff regional authority to contribute £37.9 million. However, the full cost and timetable for building the foundry were not disclosed. The foundry was first discussed in 2015 (see  Welsh chip foundry planned ).

It has now been agreed that CSC Foundry Ltd. – LDC Ffowndri in Welsh – will be located at Newport and owned by the 10 local councils in the region. The space will initially be leased to wafer producer IQE for compound semiconductor manufacturing and applications development.

The deal was signed by the Secretary of State for Wales, The Right Hon. Alun Cairns MP; Welsh Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates, CSC Foundry directors Councillors Bob Greenland (Monmouthshire) and Andrew Barry (Merthyr), and IQE CEO Drew Nelson.

"The facility will become the base for a number of compound semiconductor related activities, including IQE, where we expect to rapidly expand our production capacity to meet increasing demand for our technology," said Nelson, in a statement. The formation of the compound semiconductor factory is intend to be an anchor in the region for the high-end production of compound semiconductors and the formation of a cluster of excellence in compound semiconductor technology and business, IQE said.

However, a number of questions remain:

1) Will the foundry be used to make compound semiconductor ICs as well as wafers?

2) How much will be spent to create the foundry, how many people will it employ?

3) When will construction of the building shell start/finish?

4) When will commercial wafers/ICs come out of the building?

5) What processes will be run?

The above questions have been put to IQE by phone and email.

Related links and articles:

www.iqep.com

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