Sony to Buy Back Semiconductor Fab from Toshiba - Report

Toshiba Rumoured to Get Rid of Nagasaki Technology Center

by Anton Shilov
12/22/2010 | 05:58 PM

Sony Corp. reportedly plans to buy back stake in Nagasaki Technology Center from Toshiba Corp. The fab that originally was owned by Sony became a joint-venture between Sony and Toshiba in early 2008 and the latter essentially gained control over the facility. Now Sony wants to regain control stake and start making CMOS sensors for various products at the factory.

 

Sony wants to buy back control stake in the joint venture from Toshiba for about ¥50 billion ($597.2 million), according to a report by Nikkei business daily partly translated by Reuters news-agency. Back in early 2008 Toshiba acquired the 300mm wafer line installed in Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corp.'s Nagasaki Technology Center Fab 2, with the exception of some equipment, for approximately ¥90 billion (about $832.63 million back then).

The actual terms of the deal are unclear and it is impossible to tell whether Toshiba will be able to continue using the fab or will hold a minor stake in the joint venture, or will its 60% completely.

Acquiring the plant will double Sony's CMOS image sensor output capacity to the equivalent of about 40 thousand 300m silicon wafers a month, according to the report. This is projected to allow the company to reduce manufacturing costs of sensors and better compete against companies like Micron Technology, Samsung Electronics and others.

When Sony sold off its plant two years ago, the factory produced Cell processors that the company installs into its PlayStation 3 game console. Back then 65nm production technology was used for manufacturing and Toshiba promised to transit fabrication to 45nm process eventually. It is unclear which other sources Sony has for Cell processors, but theoretically it may outsource them to IBM, Globalfoundries and some other big players.