October 4, 2006 – By the end of next year, Chinese flagship foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. (SMIC) will have three 300mm wafer fabs, giving it a total 300mm wafer foundry capacity of 60,000 wafers/month, more than bigger rivals United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., according to a report in the Taiwan Economic News.
SMIC, which already has four 200mm fabs up and running in China, recently completed construction of its 300mm fab in Shanghai, and is planning to ramp volume production at another 300mm fab in Hunan Province late next year. It’s also boosting output at its site in Beijing to more than 20,000 wafers/month by the end of this year, up from 18,000 wafers/month currently. Other plans in the works: equip its Shanghai factory for pilot capacity of 5000 wafers/month by mid-2007, and ramp to 4000-6000 wafers/month at the Hunan site later next year.
Despite the enormous amount of 300mm capacity, SMIC still lags behind the top three foundries (TSMC, UMC, Chartered) in terms of leading-edge processes, the report noted. SMIC recently began pilot production using 90nm processes, two quarters behind the other foundries’ volume production ramps, and SMIC is expected to be at least two quarters behind in ramping to volume production of 65nm chips.
So, to fill its 300mm lines, SMIC is pulling in work for standard DRAM and flash memory chips, according to the report. SMIC’s Beijing facility is producing DRAMs for Qimonda and Elpida, while, SMIC’s Shanghai site is making NAND flash memory chips for Israeli chipmaker Saifun, and plans to begin mass producing 90nm-based 2GB NAND chips next quarter. The foundry’s Hunan fab is expected to be dual-use, able to make either flash memory or DRAM when it starts pilot production late next year, the report noted.