September 29, 2009 – After years of speculation and waiting, Texas Instruments has opened the doors of its RFAB (Richardson, TX), 300mm analog production site. Equipment move-in is slated for October, with tools recently bought on the cheap from Qimonda’s memory plant in Richmond, VA, a $172M deal just approved by a bankruptcy court. Output will begin by the end of 2010, eventual full capacity will see shipments of >$1B worth of chips annually, the company said in a statement.
"The time is right for this investment," said Rich Templeton, TI’s chairman/president/CEO, citing growing customer demand for analog chips for devices that offer appealing energy-efficiency capabilities. Immediate hiring has begun for 250 jobs, both manufacturing and administrative; full capacity will see as many as 1000 employees there.
Announced in 2003 and completed in 2006, the 1.1M sq. ft. facility on a 92-acre site in the Dallas suburb of Richardson has essentially sat idle since 2007, to the subject of much speculation; in early 2007 TI said it would shift sub-45nm digital process technology over to foundry partners, but continue its internal analog and mixed-signal work, fueling further speculation about the fate of RFAB.
The company has commendably kept up the site’s manufacturing capabilities, though, making it the industry’s first LEED-certified fab with "integrated design of green technologies and techniques" — most recently by implementing subatmospheric gas sources (SAGs) with its ion implantation to reduce energy consumption and costs.
Another first that TI is touting: RFAB will be the first new fab brought online in the US since 1996. (That’s until GlobalFoundries/AMD puts together Luther Forest, projected in about three years.)