AMS plans to rent a wafer fab in New York

August 20, 2015 // By Peter Clarke
Austrian analog, mized-signal and sensor company is set to manufacture chips in New York in a custom-built, rented wafer fab.

AMS AG (Unterpremstaetten, Austria), formerly known as Austriamicrosystems, is, has announced it plans to rent a wafer fab that will be built for it by the State of New York.

This unusual ownership arrangement will provide AMS with no depreciation and significant cost-per-wafer benefits, the company said. The wafer fab is yet to be built and the production ramp is expected early in 2018. Marcy, between Rome and Utica in upstate New York, is one potential site for the wafer fab as it has land that has been prepared for such a purpose.

AMS said it had entered into "an agreement with the State of New York under which they will construct a new analog wafer fab to AMS’ specifications. AMS is focused on the production of analog, power, wireless and sensor and MEMS circuits typically for use in industrial, medical and automotive and in some consumer electronics and communications applications. The company achieved a significant expansion when it acquired TAOS Inc. of Texas a manufacturer of ambient light sensors.

AMS manufactures at its own wafer fab complex in Austria on 200mm-diameter wafers at a rate of about 180,000 to 190,000 wafer per year. This offers CMOS, HVCMOS and SiGe processes at geometries of 0.8-micron, 0.35-micron and 180nm. The company also has technology partnerships with TSMC and IBM and a foundry partnership with UMC.

The Unterpremsttraten fab is mature and running at close to capacity so it was known that AMS CEO Kirk Laney was looking for a next manufacturing site (see Austria's AMS is shopping for a wafer fab).

It now appears that the State of New York is prepared to build a fab to AMS' specifications and then rent the facility to the company. A 450-acre site on vacant land belonging to State University of New York SUNY at Marcy between Utica and Rome has been marketed as a possible location for a wafer fab.

It is likely that the New York fab will be capable of running 300mm-diameter wafers, which would provide economies of scale. AMS said the first build out of the wafer fab would be capable of running a 130nm manufacturing process and provide a manufacturing capacity of about 150,000 200mm-equivalent wafers per year. The fab will be capable of more advanced production and an eventual manufacturing capacity of about 450,000 200mm-equivalent wafers per year.

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