STMicroelectronics and Tower Semiconductor announced an agreement by which ST will welcome Tower to its Agrate R3 300 mm fab under construction on its Agrate Brianza site in Italy. ST and Tower will join forces for an accelerated fab ramp-up, a key factor to reach a high utilization level and therefore a competitive wafer cost. ST will share the cleanroom in R3, with Tower installing its own equipment in one third of the total space. The fab is expected to be ready for equipment installation later this year and start production in the second half of 2022.
ST and Tower will share the clean room space and the facility infrastructure. Both companies will invest in their respective process equipment and work together on the acceleration of the fab qualification and subsequent ramp-up. Operations will continue to be managed by ST, with select Tower personnel seconded to ST in specific roles to support fab qualification and volume ramp-up, as well as other engineering and process roles. In the early stage 130, 90 and 65 nm processes for smart power, analog mixed signal and RF processes will be qualified in R3. The products in these technologies will be notably used in automotive, industrial and personal electronics applications.
“The key parameter for industrial and economic performance of a fab is its utilization. With Tower we have a great partner for analog, power and mixed signal volume manufacturing that will enable us to qualify and ramp up the Agrate R3 300 mm fab significantly faster. This will enable an optimal utilization of the fab almost right from the early stage of production. The capacity of the full build-out state of the fab could even be increased compared to the original capacity estimate of 2018, when we started the project,” said Jean-Marc Chéry, president and CEO of STMicroelectronics. “The products manufactured in Agrate R3 will support the automotive, industrial and personal electronics markets. They will contribute to ease the supply tensions in a wide range of applications in the mid to longer term.”
Tower CEO Russell Ellwanger commented, “We are very pleased to announce this partnership with STMicroelectronics. ST is well known for its leading technology, operational excellence and corporate integrity. We look forward to our mutual success. Tower’s strong execution in advanced 65 nm, 300 mm based analog RF, power platforms, displays and other technologies, will be significantly enhanced by this activity in Agrate; more than tripling Tower’s 300 mm foundry capacity to well service our customers’ increasing demand within these fast-growing markets.”
To implement this project, Tower will establish a wholly-owned Italian subsidiary. Tower will provide details on its significant cap-ex investment schedule and amounts invested as the project progresses.