Q2 2014

Blue circuit board


Over the past several years, ATREG has helped Renesas Electronics Corporation reposition their manufacturing portfolio through the disposition of fabs in the USA, Germany, and Japan. ATREG is currently working with Renesas on the disposition of their 200mm fab featuring an integrated tool line capable of 14,000 wafer starts / month and located in Kai-City (Kofu), Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. While the bulk of its production has been at 0.35µm and 0.18µm, the high-voltage, 200mm Kofu CMOS fab tool line is capable of manufacturing 0.35µm down to 0.15µm process technologies and produces a wide variety of analog / mixed-signal products, including power management devices, high-power amplifiers, and high-voltage power devices.

Renesas Kofu fab

The company is now soliciting bids on behalf of Renesas from parties interested in some or all of the 200mm equipment. Preference will be given to the parties whose bid encompasses the highest bid prices along with the largest number of assets.

As a result of the impending sale referenced above, the Kofu site can be repurposed as an alternative advanced manufacturing facility for a variety of other technology uses, including solar, display, LED, MEMS, and data center to name just a few.





Innovative R&D collaboration models for the semiconductor industry

With headquarters in Leuven, Belgium and over 2,000 people around the globe, imec is a world leader in nanoelectronics R&D. The company leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of global partnerships in information and communication technology (ICT), healthcare, and energy to deliver industry relevant technology solutions. ATREG recently sat down with imec’s CEO & President Luc Van den hove to discuss the company’s innovative R&D collaboration models and how they benefit the semiconductor industry.

What is imec’s role in the field of nanoelectronics?

imec logoWe have developed a unique world-leading position in the field of nanoelectronics R&D over the past 30 years by combining a myriad of elements under one roof – advanced research on process steps, materials, and devices for next-generation IC technologies, IC design expertise, and system R&D in life sciences, medical devices, wireless communications, sensors, imaging systems, and energy. Our focus on industry relevant R&D combined with our operational excellence and customer responsiveness result in 80% of all our revenues coming from industry around the world.

What makes imec unique?

We have developed a unique collaboration model in our research labs that integrates leading international players across the entire semiconductor value chain (IDMs, foundries, fab-lite companies, equipment and material suppliers, software companies, etc.), industrial system companies, as well as university / Ph.D. and post-doctorate research in a unique ecosystem. A significant key to our success is our staff of about 2,100 people, including about 400 industrial residents and close to 300 Ph.D. and post-doctorate researchers working in our labs. We have grown into the largest semiconductor industry research entity and one of the top eight leading semiconductor players in the world. We have an industrial network of more than 600 partners and collaborate with over 210 universities in the world. Imec academy is the learning platform for both imec’s own employees as well as local and international industry and academia. It offers four state-of-the-art learning programs – the school for business and leadership, as well as three technical schools for semiconductor technology, biomedical systems, and smart systems. Our school curricula provide multiple learning environments both within and beyond the classroom (up to 150,000 contact hours of training per year).

What type of disruptive technologies is imec working on today?

We explore different material and device options for each technology and uncover fundamental insights for each best solution. Horizontally, we are active in building a broad portfolio of very advanced process platforms in CMOS (10nm and beyond) and wireless communications (60GHz communication, ultra-low power wireless, 79GHz radar, reconfigurable radio, digital baseband, and analog / digital converters). Vertically, we use our broad and advanced platforms to build unique solutions in select application areas with large societal challenges, but which offer great business opportunities (healthcare, life sciences, energy, high-end sensors, imagers, and wireless communications).

How do companies engage with imec from an R&D and IP transfer standpoint?

ChipsThe largest share of our revenue comes from multi-partner program collaborations for which we have developed a unique intellectual property (IP) model. Project-based bilateral research can range from a feasibility study to an IC or system-on-chip prototype and even small-volume manufacturing. Take our imec IClink program for example. We link innovators and entrepreneurs to IC technology leaders and our experts and global network of trusted partners support you across the entire IC value chain. Another way to engage with the market for commercialization of imec IP is via start-up companies or stand-alone licensing agreements.

Staying on the forefront of innovation is challenging. What has been the key to imec’s success?

Thanks to our program-driven business model, we have gained rapid momentum and acceptance in the semiconductor industry at a moment when the sector was struggling with galloping R&D costs. Our globally networked programs have allowed us to build a combined critical mass and stay abreast of the competition. We run our research infrastructure in a 24/7 mode which speeds up cycle times, experiment outcomes, and learning cycles, as well as shortens time-to-market for our partners. To boost innovation, we have implemented the notion of mixed research teams, with imec doing joint research with different players in the value chain at our advanced facilities.

What might surprise people about imec?

What may surprise people are the size of our global industrial network which includes all the top semiconductor players, as well as the scope of our technology platform portfolio as a basis for more application-oriented R&D in a variety of domains. Also, the portability of our R&D outcome to industrial mass-manufacturing environments, something that often lacks in university R&D. We leverage our state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure to test equipment in beta and develop it further when exploring next generations of process technologies.

About Luc Van den Hove

Luc croppedLuc was appointed CEO and President of imec on July 1, 2009. He joined imec in 1984, starting his research career in the field of silicide and interconnect technologies. In 1988, he served as Manager of the company’s Micro-Patterning Group (lithography, dry etching) to then become Department Director of unit process step R&D in 1996 and Vice President of the Silicon Process & Device Technology Division in 1998. In January 2007, Luc was appointed as imec’s Executive Vice President and COO. During this tenure, he has grown imec to over 2,000 people with offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, the USA, Japan, Taiwan, China, and India. The company operates with an annual budget of €320 million (FY2012).

Luc currently serves as Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Leuven, Belgium and is a member of ASML’s Technology Strategy Committee. He has authored and co-authored more than 150 published articles and technical conference contributions. He is a frequently solicited speaker on technology trends and applications for nanoelectronics and has keynoted more than 30 premier industry conferences. Luc holds a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Leuven.