Report: ProMos eyeing CMOS sensor design site in US

January 11, 2007 – ProMos Technologies Inc. plans to establish a $10 million fabless operation in the US to design sensor chips using CMOS processes for handheld devices, reportedly with Cypress Semiconductor Corp. as a partner, according to the Taiwan Economic News.

The paper cited “people familiar with the plan” saying that the Taiwanese chipmaker would likely partner with Cypress to open the facility. ProMos would be the second Taiwanese chipmaker to produce CMOS sensors, besides TSMC.

ProMos laid out plans in late 2006 to enter the CMOS sensor business, as well as NAND flash memory, as part of a five-year expansion plan, which has been approved by the company’s board of directors. The board also approved ProMos’ long-delayed plans to transplant 0.18-micron chip process technologies to China, to be housed in a new 200mm operation in cooperation with the Chongqing city government.

US firm Micron already has dovetailed its memory operations with a high-growth image sensor business. This year, Micron will surpass fabless OmniVision as the top image sensor supplier, with sales surging 147% in its just-closed fiscal 2006 (through August) to $749 million, about 14% of its overall revenues, a 7.5xfold increase from $99 million just two years ago, according to data from IC Insights Inc. The company is now utilizing old DRAM fab lines in the US, Italy, and Japan to produce CMOS image sensors, including a closed 200mm fab in Idaho purchased from Zilog restarted for image sensor work.

In December, Micron acquired Avago Technologies’ image sensor business for approximately $53 million, including select imaging products and IP, as well as about 90 employees (mostly engineers) from facilities in Oregon, Colorado, San Jose, and Malaysia.


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