A New Top-Tier FD-SOI Foundry – But Which One?


By Adele Hars, ASN Editor-in-Chief

Speculation is mounting following ST’s April 28th announcement that they’d signed on a new first-tier foundry for 28nm FD-SOI manufacturing.  As of this posting, they haven’t yet said which one it is.

The social media-sphere is abuzz about the mystery foundry – with posters in LinkedIn groups, Twitter, SemiWiki and various industry news sites and forums postulating that it might be Samsung, or UMC, or SMIC or…?

Then David Manners of Electronics Weekly said he’d heard it was SMIC, which launched another round of furious speculation.

But for now, ST’s position is to keep shtum, saying only that we’ll just have to wait to find out which foundry it is until they’re ready to make an official announcement…which caused another round of speculation as to when that would be. Some say they’ll announce at their Investors and Analysts Day on May 15th. Certainly the investment community will press for details, right?

The “we’ve-signed-but-we’re-not-saying-with-whom” news came out of a press release issued with the STMicroelectronics’ 2014 First Quarter Financial Results (read press release here). Jean-Marc Chery, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Embedded Processing Solutions, was quoted as saying, “We have just signed a strategic agreement with a top-tier foundry for 28nm FD-SOI technology. This agreement expands the ecosystem, assures the industry of high-volume production of ST’s FD-SOI based IC solutions for faster, cooler, and simpler devices and strengthens the business and financial prospects of the Embedded Processing Solutions Segment.”

During the follow-up call with analysts (transcript on Seeking Alpha here), CEO Carlo Bozotti added that, “ST’s unique FD-SOI technology is well on its way to become a significant revenue generator for 2015 and beyond….” And the Board of Directors announced that Jean-Marc Chery, who’s been quite a champion of FD-SOI, has been named as ST’s new COO.

Further fanning the flames, in a follow-up piece, Manners quoted KT’s CEO as saying FinFET yields “…are proving to be the most challenging that the industry have ever faced, and even the smallest variation and process margin can cause significant yield losses for these devices.”  Now we all know that FinFETs are part of the equation – the question is when and for which apps. But Manners suggested that the current FinFET yield issues are prompting companies to take another look at “simpler, cheaper FD-SOI”.

So we wait with bated breath. Stay tuned – as soon as ST makes an official announcement, you’ll read about it here at ASN.

 

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