February 26, 2007 – Cypress Semiconductor Corp. says it will contract with Taiwan foundry United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) to produce its next-generation flagship SRAM products, continuing efforts to retreat from leading-edge manufacturing and development following the planned sale of its 65nm process R&D shop, the Silicon Valley Technology Center (SVTC).
Cypress says this is the first time it will use an external foundry for its flagship SRAM products. 65nm tapeouts are expected later this year. The company also will utilize UMC for its S8 0.13-micron embedded flash technology as well as two future generations of embedded flash technology to produce devices including PSoC programmable mixed-signal arrays and USB devices.
The move is part of what Cypress calls a “No More Moore” initiative, through which the company is abandoning independent leading-edge process technology development
“UMC’s advanced technology will allow Cypress to maintain its leadership position without having to shoulder the entire burden of advanced research and equipment,” said Shahin Sharifzadeh, EVP of wafer fab and technology at Cypress. “By continuing to add manufacturing capacity with foundry partners like UMC, we will be able to meet the needs of our rapidly growing customer base and accelerate our drive to become a leading programmable solutions provider.”
Henry Liu, SVP and head of UMC’s new business group, noted that the deal will enable Cypress to “focus on developing competitive designs and programmable solutions, while UMC gains a valued customer and technology development partner for future process generations.”
Cypress’s shift toward a heavier mix of programmable products means it now has few that require leading-edge technology, the main reason it decided to sell its ownership stake in the SVTC to a pair of private equity firms. The SVTC was created in 2000 and formalized in 2004, and delivered its first 65nm/300mm wafers in early 2005.
Under new ownership, the SVTC expects to gain more capabilities and more processes/equipment to work on CMOS-derivative offerings of memory, display, and energy, according to Bert Bruggeman, GM for the SVTC, in an interview with WaferNEWS. An initial areas of focus will be more work around MEMS, and he suggested the SVTC will explore more opportunities to work with foundries as a sort of referral.
“Foundries’ bread and butter is to make sure you have T[SMC]- or U[MC]- compatible platforms — that’s the number one thing they care about,” he explained to WaferNEWS. Because the typical SVTC customer is doing “disruptive” process development that is not compatible with TSMC or UMC platforms, “We’re the perfect vehicle to develop against manufacturing standards with foundries,” he said.