Tower in two-fab project in China, say reports

February 23, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
Speciality foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel), which is known to have aspirations to manufacture in China, is already established in a two-fab joint venture in Nanjing, China, according to reports.

Although Tower, which trades as TowerJazz, does not appear to have made any public announcement about a deal in Nanjing there are reports in China and Israel that Tower has invested, with fingerprint sensor company Tacoma Technology, in the creation of an industrial park in Nanjing in Jiangsu province with a budget of $3 billion. That industrial park is set to include one 200mm wafer fab and one 300mm wafer fab that will both be managed by Tower, according to a report from the China unit of the Israel Export Institute dated August 21, 2016.

The Israel Export Institute references Chinese language reports from China's Israel Trade Organization and industry organization SEMI that highlight a ground-breaking ceremony for the industrial park held on June 8, 2016.

In addition to two wafer fabs the park is set to have an IC packaging and test operation as well as design facilities, the reports said. A posting from the official Facebook page of China's Jiangsu State posted on June 12, 2016, also provides the basic information about a two-fab deal.

None of the reports indicate how much Tower or Tacoma has invested or how much may be coming from the Chinese state or the local municipality. Nor were timetables given for the erection of fab shells, the installation of equipment or the ramping of IC production. According to a SEMI report on wafer fabs in China, a 300mm wafer fab belonging to Tacoma Semiconductor is scheduled but on a timetable yet to be decided (see China's projects driving global fab equipment sales). Similarly, there is no indication of the manufacturing capacity these fabs will have or by when that capacity will be achieved.

The reports state that Tacoma Technology was set up in Hong Kong in 2003 and specializes in optical CMOS fingerprint recognition systems.

This would represent a good match for Tower, which has expertise in manufacturing CMOS image sensors. As a speciality foundry Tower serves companies across almost all application sectors –  consumer, automotive, medical, industrial, aerospace and defense – with a variety of manufacturing processes for RF circuits, high-performance analog, power management ICs, image sensors and MEMS.

Tower was approached for information for this story but declined to comment.

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