by Anton Shilov
02/09/2012 | 09:42 PM
United Microelectronics Corp. is about to begin the roll-out of 28nm manufacturing process technology ahead of schedule. Analysts believe that UMC will start to produce Texas Instruments OMAP5 system-on-chip using UMC 28LPT process tech in Q2 or Q3. The contract maker of semiconductors expects 28nm technology to contribute for up to 5% of its revenue by the end of 2012.
"Due to promising 28nm engagements and strong demand, we believe UMC will be well rewarded when 28nm mass production begins. [...] Our target for 28nm is 5% [of total wafer revenue] towards the end of the year," said Shih-Wei Sun, chief executive officer of UMC, during this week's conference call with financial analysts.
Market observers from Nomura Equities Research believe that UMC will begin to produce small volumes of TI OMAP5 chips in Q2 - Q3 of 2012, which will be two or three quarters earlier than they had expected previously, according to EETimes web-site.
It is necessary to note that UMC has taken a very cautious approach to 28nm. Two out of three versions of the process use conventional Poly/SiON (silicon oxynitride) gates and only one is projected to use high-K metal gate (HKMG) technology with gate last approach. In general, 28nm fabrication processes from UMC are tailored for application processors, cellular baseband, WLAN, tablet, FPGA and networking chips.
UMC claims that conservative approach to 28nm (with 28LPT and 28HLP) allows it to provide easy migration way for existing customers from 40nm, 65nm and other technologies, whereas the HKMG-based 28HPM lets its clients to further boost performance of future products without facing extreme costs associated with aggressive transitions to new nodes. UMC expects 28nm fabrication process to have a long lifespan.