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Japan's SoC effort dissolved

Posted by iTech - 2005-10-30

TOKYO — Japan's 90-nm joint R&D research company, Advanced SoC Platform Corp. (Aspla), closed up shop and was quietly dissolved on Oct. 7.
Aspla's 300-mm shuttle service, one of its major operations in addition to 90-nm process development, was taken over by Semiconductor Technology Academic Research Center (Starc).

Aspla was founded in July 2002 by Japan's major semiconductor companies with the mission to develop a standard 90-nm platform for volume production of SoCs using 300-mm wafers. It opened a 300-mm pilot line at NEC's Sagamihara works in April 2003.

The platform was intended to standardize fundamental, noncompetitive layers of semiconductor design and fabrication. Chip makers were to use the platform to develop their own products.

Working with Starc, which prepared standard libraries, Aspla developed generic and low-power processes in 2003 and launched Aspla's shuttle service the same year. Multiple customers could share one of the service's reticles to lower prototyping costs.

At its peak in 2003, Aspla executives outlined an ambitious fab network plan that would have connected Japanese fabs on the Aspla platform. They also hinted at extending its mission to 65-nm process technology.

Instead, the process technology was transferred to each of the 11 founding companies.

With Aspla's dissolution, the line was sold to NEC Electronics last month. NEC has a 200-mm wafer pilot line in the same building.

Aspla's shuttle service had already accepted over 130 orders and Starc will continue serve clients who want to develop prototypes using the service, a Starc spokesman said.

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