April 3, 2006 – Japanese chipmaker Renesas Technology Corp. has joined the ranks of SEMATECH’s International Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI), becoming the second Japanese representative in the group. SEMATECH stated that Renesas is sending assignees to work in programs focused on improving factory productivity and reducing cost/wafer, and ultimately cost/die. The combined former semiconductor divisions of Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Renesas ranked No. 7 among worldwide chipmakers in terms of 2005 revenues, according to recent iSuppli Corp. figures.
In Oct. 2004, Matsushita became the first Japanese chipmaker to join SEMATECH as a member in joint development of fab technologies, and was the first chipmaker to join ISMI without becoming a full SEMATECH member company. Previously, SEMATECH — formed in the early 1990s to revive the US semiconductor industry’s competitiveness — cooperated with Japanese chipmakers only through domestic industry groups such as Selete.
Nine core SEMATECH members were involved in ISMI from its launch in early 2004: AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Freescale (formerly Motorola’s semiconductor group), Philips, Texas Instruments, and TSMC. Spansion joined ISMI in Dec. 2004, and Samsung signed up in April 2005, becoming a full SEMATECH member later that year.
Scott Kramer, ISMI director, noted that ISMI’s membership now represents “well over half of the world’s microchip production. That’s a powerful base for making positive and significant changes in the manufacturing end of this industry.”
Among its projects, ISMI is also working on a new program to establish an “incremental” approach toward improving 300mm production and ease the eventual migration to the 450mm new wafer size. The “300mm Prime” program will incorporate studies on how to improve equipment, automation, and factory integration to meet the challenges of high product mix, fast cycle time, and flexibility. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) calls for implementation of 450mm manufacturing by 2012.