An indication of that international point of view is the opening of an office in Silicon Valley and collaboration with the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC) at the University of California, Berkeley.
The wafer fab is intended to work on MEMS where it can help startups and others develop processes for products that could then be transferred to high volume manufacturing elsewhere. "But it's more than just MEMS. It includes III-V, RFSOI, piezo and magnetic materials, III-V-on-silicon," said Peter Himes who has recently been appointed as general manager of SITRI Silicon Valley. Himes was previously, vice president of marketing at MEMS foundry Silex Microsystems AB (Jarfalla, Sweden).
The SITRI clean room will have equipment for DRIE, wafer bonding, back-side etch and polish, PVD, MOCVD, CMP, maskless lithography for quick prototyping and ultra high vacuum magnetic materials sputtering.
"It's a major fab but not a production facility," said Himes adding that SITRI is spending tens of millions of dollars on its construction. Completion of the pilot fab shell is set for summer 2015, and Himes hopes it will be ready to be shown to visitors in September 2015. First production is expected in 2016.
Himes said that SITRI was founded in 2013 with an overall focus on the Internet of Things at every level from system down through platform to component and process. SITRI acts as an engineering services resource, as a business incubator as a coordinator of collaborative research with institutes around Shanghai and as an investor. As well as process development and pilot production SITRI can provide process analysis, circuit analysis and wafer test services, intellectual property and patent services. SITRI also provides technical and marketing reports, and accepts engagements for custom research reports.
While the conventional approach is to support local Chinese startups SITRI's mandate is global and it can help fabless companies from outside China tap into local manufacturing and make their market entry into China, said Himes. "Hence the office in Silicon Valley as well as one in Taiwan," Himes told EE Times Europe.
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