By Paula Doe
WaferNews Contributing Editor
The Japanese government has essentially decided to invest about $240 million (31.5 billion yen) in a joint national 0.1-micron fab, according to Nikkei Microdevices Online, though the Diet still needs to approve the budgeted amount. Now the hot issue is apparently whether Japan’s chipmakers can get it up and running fast enough – say by the second half of this year.
Giving up on differentiating many products by process technology, chipmakers are focusing on time to market. And they’re looking to use the common SPARC design library for 0.1-micron. With customers asking foreign foundries for 0.1-micron pilot production in the second half of 2002, proponents figure Japan’s foundry will have to be ready before its users all contract with overseas rivals. All it will take is five or 10 big rival companies with different technologies and priorities and cultures agreeing on how best to do absolute leading edge technology in the next few months.