Israeli foundry Tower Semiconductor is to set up an Italian subsidiary as part of a deal to share fab space with STMicroelectronics in a new 300mm fab being built in Agrate.
Details of the financial arrangement were not disclosed but Tower will make use of one-third of the cleanroom of the R3 fab beig built by ST and the companies will share semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure. ST will continue to operate the fab with Tower personnel seconded to the company. By bringing Tower into the wafer fab both companies can reduce the cost of their wafers, the companies said.
The R3 wafer fab is a 300mm wafer fab for analog and power semiconductor production that is expected to be ready for equipment installation later this year and start production in the second half of 2022. Giancarlo Giorgetti, Minister of Economic Development for the Italian government was present last week at the opening of the building (above).
Tower will be able to install its own equipment in one third of the cleanroom and install its own manufacturing processes. ST and Tower will work together on the acceleration of the fab qualification and subsequent ramp-up.
"ST is well known for its leading technology, operational excellence, and corporate integrity. We look forward to our mutual success. Tower’s strong execution in advanced 65nm, 300mm-based analog RF, power platforms, displays and other technologies, will be significantly enhanced by this activity in Agrate; more than tripling Tower’s 300mm foundry capacity to well service our customers’ increasing demand within these fast-growing markets," said Russell Ellwanger, CEO of Tower.
In the early stage 130, 90 and 65nm processes for smart power, analog, mixed-signal and RF processes will be qualified in R3. The products in these technologies will be notably used in automotive, industrial and personal electronics applications.
"With Tower we have a great partner for analog, power and mixed-signal volume manufacturing that will enable us to qualify and ramp up the Agrate R3 300mm fab significantly faster," said Jean-Marc Chéry, CEO of ST, in a statement. "This will enable an optimal utilization of the fab almost right from the early stage of production. The capacity of the full build-out state of the fab could even be increased compared to the original capacity estimate of 2018, when we started the project."
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