Leading chip manufacturers, Globalfoundries Inc. and STMicroelectronics NV are in discussions about building a joint wafer fab in France, according to a Bloomberg report.

The two companies want to take advantage of the subsidy opportunities afforded by the European Chips Act, according to Bloomberg quoting an unnamed source.

The European Commission has proposed the €43 billion European Chips Act as a mechanism to help Europe increase domestic IC manufacturing and produce 20 percent of the world’s chips by 2030 (see European Chips Act could include powers for EU control).

The political awareness of the strategic significance of chip production has increased since a chip supply shortage closed or limited production at many European companies, particularly in automotive sector. Intel has been persuaded to put two wafer fabs in Magdeburg, Germany at a cost of about €17 billion and is set to receive a 40 percent subsidy (see Intel to get 40 percent subsidy for German wafer fabs).

Intel’s wafer fabs will manufacture advanced chips at around the 2nm node but are not due to start production until 2027. Intel is also planning to put down an R&D and chip design center in France

French connection

France is eager to also see its chip manufacturing footprint expand and may be pushing ST to participate and help create what would be a second wafer fab under the European Chips Act initiative. ST has a major 300mm wafer fab Crolles that was developed 20 years ago under the Crolles 2 Alliance. This comprised ST, Philips (later NXP Semiconductor) and Motorola Semi (subsequently Freescale and then acquired by NXP Semiconductor).

The construction of another shell on or near to the Crolles campus and near the CEA-Leti research insitute in Grenoble might fulfill the brief for French politicians, ST and Globalfoundries.

No details have been provided around how much could be spent on the wafer fab, where it would be located or what it would make. It is notable that STMicroelectronics and Globalfoundries share a common technology called fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) and this is being used for a number of types of IC just behind the leading edge.

There may be political pressure to double-down on the FDSOI technology as something that provides European differentiation.

TSMC, world’s leading foundry, said it was in talks about putting a wafer fab down in Europe in July 2021 (see TSMC confirms German fab talks). However, in the last few days TSMC chairman Mark Liu has said the company has no definite plans to build a wafer fab in Europe.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Intel to get 40% subsidy for German wafer fabs

TSMC confirms German fab talks

GlobalFoundries valued at $25bn in IPO pricing

India lobbies Intel, Globalfoundries, TSMC for fabs

European Chips Act could include powers for EU control

Spain wants to develop 5nm chip manufacturing – report


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