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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • TSMC, UMC Engage in Copper Chip R&D;
  • August 6, 1998 (TAIPEI) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) both started research and development of copper chips.
    They aim to keep up with major foreign competitors, which have been continually upgrading their semiconductor manufacturing technology.

    The two Taiwan-based companies are expected to begin applying their new technology in manufacturing in September 1999, before mass production slated for the end of that year.

    When manufacturing chips with the new technology, copper wiring is used as an electrical conductor instead of the traditional aluminum device interconnects. The chips produced are smaller, faster and more powerful than the most advanced chips available on the market today.

    Motorola Inc. has transferred its copper chip technology to Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), and the latter is thus able to develop chips with billion-byte, high-speed transmission. AMD has announced that it will introduce to the market a 1,000MHz, K7 processor with the technology in the year 2000.

    International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) also introduced a copper-related semiconductor manufacturing technology in September 1997. That company, too, plans to cooperate with Motorola to apply the technology to the Power PC.

    A TSMC executive said the use of copper will help cut product cost by 20 percent, and will make chips better in terms of electrical resistance. Despite the fact that the yield rate is low at the beginning, the new technology still has great potential for manufacturers once their skills improve, the executive added.

    TSMC and UMC are likely to begin making copper chips in September 1999.

    Mass production is slated for the end of the same year. The two companies now lag behind large foreign competitors in technology, but they still have the potential to surpass foreign companies in overall output in the future.

    (Commercial Times, Taiwan)

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    Updated: Wed Aug 5 17:38:05 1998