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Renesas Electronics Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company on Monday announced that they have signed an agreement to extend their microcontroller (MCU) technology collaboration to 40nm embedded flash (eFlash) process technology for manufacturing MCU products used in next-generation automotive and consumer applications such as home appliances.

Renesas previously agreed to outsource MCUs to TSMC using 90nm eFlash process technology. Under the 40nm MCU collaboration, Renesas will outsource MCU production at 40nm and future technologies. Essentially, that means that Renesas has no plans to develop its own process technologies that are more progressive than 40nm. Basically, it means that Reneasas indirectly confirmed its plans to withdraw from semiconductor manufacturing in general.

“In order for us to achieve further global growth, we are confident that TSMC will provide us with significant benefits in accelerated time-to-volume production and maximum flexibility in addressing the volatile fluctuation of the market demand,” said Shinichi Iwamoto, senior vice president of Renesas Electronics.

Renesas and TSMC will collaborate to lead in advanced technologies for MCU platform and production by combining Renesas' MONOS (metal-oxide-nitride-oxide-silicon) technology supporting both high reliability and high speed, and high-quality technical support with TSMC's advanced CMOS process technologies and flexible production capacity.

By making the MONOS process platform available to other semiconductor suppliers around the world (including fabless companies and IDMs), Renesas and TSMC aim to set up an ecosystem and further widen the customer base.

MONOS is a structure in which each transistor in the flash cell consists of three layers—oxide, nitride, and oxide—on a silicon base, with a metal control gate at the top. Renesas has accumulated more than two decades of experience in the use of MONOS flash memory technology by providing MCUs for IC cards. Based on the track record in MONOS technology, Renesas successfully extended the technology by developing a split-gate (SG) structure suitable for MCU internal flash memory. The new “SG-MONOS”-type flash memory realizes MCUs with high reliability, high speed and low power consumption.

“Based on what we have learned from the Great East Japan earthquake last year, which brought major impacts to several of our manufacturing sites and our customers businesses, we have been accelerating the construction of the “fab network” as part of the company's business continuity plan (BCP). By integrating both companies' world-leading technologies through this collaboration, we will construct a supply structure which secures consistent supply for our customers and also drive the market as a leading MCU supplier aiming to set up an ecosystem for MCUs," added Mr. Iwamoto.

Building on a history of strong collaboration, TSMC's process capabilities will provide Renesas with a cost-effective, highly reliable way to integrate flash onto a single microcontroller. At 40nm process, MCU products could achieve higher speed, lower power consumption and more than 50 percent smaller die size compared to the current 90nm node. These features are particularly crucial for integrated MCU designs, where logic, memory, and all other system components are squeezed into a very small area.

“Renesas is one of the leaders in the MCU market and the collaboration will help deliver the performance Renesas needs for new production introduction with the level of quality and reliability its customers have come to expect,” said Jason Chen, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at TSMC.

Tags: Renesas, TSMC, Semiconductor, 40nm, 90nm, eFlash

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