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NEC buys 300-mm line from R&D group

Posted by inet - 2005-10-27

NEC Electronics Inc. on Wednesday (Oct. 26) disclosed that it has purchased a 300-mm wafer prototype production line from a Japanese agency.

NEC bought the fab line that was owned by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and leased by the Advanced SoC Platform Corp. (ASPLA), a research and development group in Japan.

The chip maker disclosed the transaction in its financial results on Wednesday. It posted a loss and said its president and CEO will step down.

It’s unclear if the ASPLA organization has been dissolved, given that NEC has moved to buy the fab line. ASPLA was established in July 2002 by Japan's 11 semiconductor companies. When the project was first organized, its goal was to establish a standardized process for 90-nm-node semiconductors on 300-mm wafer lines. Its member companies were considering extending the collaboration to the 65-nm generation.

NEC owns a 200-mm wafer prototype line in the same building as ASPLA, which is located in Sagamihara. The company said it plans to integrate the 200- and 300-mm lines to boost its competitiveness.

In May, NEC Electronics officially celebrated the launch of its 300-mm wafer fab at Yamagata and has started to ramp its manufacturing capacity towards 20,000 wafers a month. The fab is scheduled to make an embedded graphics chip for inclusion in Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console and the chip is expected to be one of the fab's first major products.

The 20,000 wafer per month figure is double the manufacturing capacity of an original plan announced in April 2004

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