IBM and Infineon AG want to sell off Altis Semiconductor, a joint-venture between the two companies, and want to see it as an independent foundry services provider. At present IBM and Infineon are negotiating with yet another potential investor. The question is whether Altis has any chances against companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, United Microelectronics Corp. or Globalfoundries.
“The plan is to turn Altis into a foundry. We will guarantee for a certain production volume but additional volume will be generated through Altis' own foundry activities. [IBM and Infineon] will fit Altis with a set of good technologies, e.g., embedded flash as well as to future technologies. They will be equipped very well,” said Infineon chief executive officer Peter Bauer in an interview with EE Times.
At present Altis Semiconductor can only produce chips using 130nm process technology, thus, it cannot address any leading-edge customers. But while the maker of chips may receive additional intellectual property from its parents, it will still have to acquire equipment that will be compatible with newer process technologies and have enough money to operate it. Owning of advanced manufacturing tools requires full utilization of this equipment to remain profitable, but presently Altis does not seem to have a lot of clients.
At present IBM and Infineon are negotiating with Germain Djouhri, a low-profile entrepreneur who aired the intention to invest €79 million (about $ 118 million) into the plant. The deal is projected to close in the next few weeks, according to Infineon executive vice president Reinhard Ploss.
“The contract details will be cleared very soon, but we cannot announce anything today,” said Mr. Ploss.