July 3, 2007 – STMicroelectronics is looking to offload CMOS image sensor work to both TSMC and ProMOS Technologies in an effort to reduce manufacturing costs ahead of an expected transition from 200mm to 300mm production requirements, according to a Digitimes report.
Digitimes claims ProMOS chairman M.L. Chen has confirmed talks with ST about outsourcing CMOS image chips, but that nothing has been finalized.
ST, the top global supplier of CMOS image sensor modules, currently makes CMOS imaging chips mostly at its nearly-amortized/depreciated 200mm fabs, where it can keep costs down — but as the technology requirements tighten to make higher-resolution sensors, that means a coming transition to expensive 300mm manufacturing, making deals with foundry partners an attractive option, the report noted. ST also is considering selling CMOS sensors alone, so that clients can package the chips into modules themselves, the report added.
ProMOS Chen was cited saying its 300mm Fab II is one of few 300mm sites that can handle CMOS image sensor work in Taiwan, adding that its fab is also cost-competitive since its depreciation/amortization is almost complete.