UMC Plans to Manufacture Central Processing Units

UMC “In Talks” on a CPU Production Deal

by Anton Shilov
05/07/2007 | 10:33 PM

United Microelectronics Corp., a contract semiconductor manufacturer from   Taiwan, plans to start producing central processing units using 45nm and 65nm process technologies. Even though it is unclear who may be interested in producing central processing units at UMC, the company claims it is negotiating with potential client.

Currently the company has no plans to produce high-end central processing units using complex process technologies, but rather intends to use its bulk CMOS fabrication process to make low-power chips.

“Honestly speaking, if you try to aim for high-end silicon-on-insulator for desktop, that goal may be too high to reach. So we will do bulk CMOS and that automatically translates into low-power processors,” said UMC chief executive Jackson Hu in an interview with EETimes web-site.

However, this does not mean that UMC has no plans for production of higher-end products. UMC is currently developing a silicon-on-insulator process, which should be introduced later this year on the 65-nm technology node.

“We believe that down the road, maybe at 32 nanometer, that SOI will become more important, and therefore from a technology development point of view we need to have that knowledge and experience,” Mr. Hu said.

Currently it is uncertain whose microprocessors are going to be made at United Microelectronics Corp., however, the company that is highly likely to be interested in chip manufacturing is Via Technologies, who has been trying hard to penetrate the market of central processing units (CPUs) for years now, but without much luck so far. UMC’s low-power process technologies may pose some interest for Via, whose main goal is to sell components for ultra low power platforms.

Other companies who may be interested in UMC’s production capacities for microprocessors are Advanced Micro Devices, who needs to make chips for low-cost personal computers for developing nations under “One Laptop Per Child Program” and Sun Microsystems, who might be interested in leveraging its SPARC (Scalable Processor ARChitecture) technology. Besides, UMC may produce chips for fabless designers, who develop processors based on IBM Power or ARM Limited's ARM architectures.