February 24, 2006 – In a bid to capture the No.1 spot in the automotive semiconductor market by 2010, NEC Electronics Corp. is initiating sweeping changes in its worldwide semiconductor operations, including closure of a 30-year old facility in Ireland, shifting work to Asia, and a 200mm upgrade for its US operation. The ultimate aim is to achieve a 20% market share (approximately 140 billion yen/~US $1.2 billion) in sales of automotive MCUs by 2010.
As part of its plans, NEC will close its semiconductor plant in Ballivor, Ireland, transferring most of the work to operations in Singapore (with some also going to Malaysia and China) by the end of 3Q06. The Irish Times laid out the numbers comparing costs involved with the Ballivor plant vs. Singapore — workers in Ballivor earn about 4x the pay rate as NEC’s Singapore workers for the same functions, while their weekly pay dwarfs that of workers in NEC’s China operation by a factor of 14.
The company plans to move a 200mm/0.15-micron production line of automotive MCUs from its facility in Sagamihara, Japan, to its Roseville, CA, operation, upgrading the site from its current 150mm/0.25-0.35 micron capabilities. The company expects to spend roughly $100 million this year on the upgrade. A pilot line will be established by September, with volume production of 6000 wafers/month reached by 2008, adding to the site’s current output of 30,000 150mm wafers/month. NEC Electronics also produces automotive MCUs at its facility in Kumamoto, Japan.
Meanwhile, NEC also is reshuffling its development and quality-assurance operations to beef up its automotive microprocessor capabilities. NEC’s design center in Dallas, previously working on ASIC development, will be restructured to focus on design and development of automotive ICs. NEC Electronics Europe’s headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany, also will strengthen its design focus on automotive MCUs, and will house a new European Quality Center to merge QA activities there and from Ireland.