Intel Foundry Services makes 65nm chips for tower semiconductors

In an unexpected turn of events, Intel announced on Tuesday that its foundry division will produce chips for contract chipmaker Tower Semiconductor. Tower was a previous acquisition target for Intel, which fell apart just a few weeks ago due to a failure to obtain regulatory approval from China. But, as it turns out, despite the failed acquisition, Intel and Tower seem to be working together after all – only with Intel doing a great job for Tower. Under the new deal, Intel will manufacture the chips for Tower customers at its Fab 11X plant in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, one of Intel’s flagship factories.

Based on the terms of the agreement, Intel Foundry Services will provide “a lane of new capacity in excess of 600,000 image layers per month” to Tower to meet a customer’s expected needs for advanced 300mm analog processing, something Intel hasn’t done in its own factories for a while. IFS will produce chips for Tower starting in 2024, when the process flow for Tower will be qualified at its production facilities. In exchange, Tower plans to invest up to $300 million in the purchase of manufacturing tools and other fixed assets for the Intel Fab 11X.

While the two companies remain committed about the actual products IFS will produce for Tower Semiconductor, they implied power management integrated circuits using the BCD (Bipolar CMOS-DMOS) process for Tower’s power management. Meanwhile, the two companies cited the use of other production nodes in Intel’s Fab 11X, including a 65nm silicon-on-radio-frequency insulator (RF SOI), which would be the first time Intel has used a SOI of any kind.

“As we look to the future, our primary focus is expanding our customer partnerships through large-scale manufacturing of leading technology solutions,” said Russell Ellwanger, CEO of Tower Semiconductor. “This collaboration with Intel allows us to meet our customer demand roadmaps, with a particular focus on advanced power management and RF SOI solutions, with full process flow qualification planned in 2024. We see this as the first step towards synergistic solutions.” Versatile and unique with Intel.”

For Tower, the deal represents an incremental step toward further expansion, catering to customers’ growing needs in 300mm technologies. The enhanced scope of this deal allows Tower to exploit broader opportunities using its existing production points, but also to strengthen relationships with large customers with overwhelming needs, laying the foundation for the development of future production points.

On the other hand, Intel will be able to fully use its Fab 11X capacity in New Mexico without having to invest in all the tools that will eventually be installed there.

“We launched Intel Foundry Services with a long-term vision of delivering the world’s first open system foundry that combines a secure, sustainable, and resilient supply chain with the best of Intel and our ecosystem,” said Stuart Pan, Senior Vice President, Intel Corporation. and General Manager, Intel Foundry Services. “We are delighted that Tower saw the unique value we offer and has chosen us to open a 300mm lane in the United States.”

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