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UMC Moves to Ramp Up 300mm Fab Capacity

Taipei, Sept. 23, 2009 (CENS)--The United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), currently the world's No.2 pure silicon foundry, has recently started tooling its Fab 12B factory in the Southern Taiwan Science Park after nearly one year of delay, aiming to double its 300mm wafer output to 100,000 units a month.

Industry executives estimated the tool installation would allow UMC to draw its output closer to No.1 player Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), whose 300mm wafer output totals 140,000 units a month now, and keep staying ahead of Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., which is likely to merge with Globalfoundries after the Abu Dhabi government-owned fund Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC) acquired major stakes in both Chartered and Globalfoundries.

The merger body of Chartered and Globalfoundries is estimated to have an output of 80,000 300mm wafers a month once Globalfoundries completes a brand new factory in New York in 2012.

UMC suspended the tooling for nearly one year after completing construction of the factory building as a result of the global economic downturn.

TSMC plans to maximize its 300mm wafer output to 1.68 million units a year. For this end, the company will spend US$2.3 billion on expansion, around 21% more than its 2008 capital expenditure. Foreign institutional investors estimated the company to spend US$3 billion on expansion in 2010, when its output of 300mm wafers may top 200,000 units a month.

UMC's capital expenditure for this year is set at US$500 million after a recent upward adjustment. Chip-making equipment suppliers estimated the company would increase capital outlay next year, based on UMC's determination to equip the FAB 12B factory.

In addition to competition in 300mm wafer capacity, UMC will also challenge TSMC in leading-edge process technologies. UMC's executives said their company is tooling the new fab with 40nm and 45nm process equipment.

Institutional investors estimated TSMC would increase 40nm and 45nm process capacities by one third this quarter and boost the output of wafers using the processes to 40,000 units a month in the fourth quarter from current 30,000 wafers.

(by Ken Liu)
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