STMicrolectronics is to build a second 300mm fab at its site in Crolles, France, this time in partnership with GlobalFoundries.
The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the new fab for fully depleted silicon on insulator (FD-SOI) which is used for low power and wireless designs. This technology is currently uses 22nm technology and so will not require leading edge manufacturing equipment which is in short supply. The fab will also produce parts on 40nm and 28nm bulk CMOS.
The move, revealed last month, aims to take advantage of support in the EU Chip Act for semiconductor manufacturing as well as French government support to boost local manufacturing.
At full capacity in 2026 the plant will produce 620,000 wafers per year, 58% for GF and 42% for ST. “At full build out this will expand our capacity for more than 1m wafers per year across Crolles and Dresden,” said Thomas Caulfield, CEO of GF. The two companies have already placed orders for equipment, which can have lead times of 12 to 24 months.
There is also a European project to develop FD-SOI further to 10nm with ST, GR, Soitec and CEA-Leti. The current 300mm wafer fab at Crolles 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 company has already built a digital twin of Crolles and is using that for interoperability to move production between fabs.
ST has built another 300mm CMOS fab at Agrate in Italy for power and RF designs, which is was planning to share with Tower Semiconductor, now being acquired by Intel. Agrate is due to start production in 2023.
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