Powerchip plans $9.4 billion in chip plant spending

Powerchip plans $9.4 billion in chip plant spending

Taiwan's Powerchip Semiconductor plans to spend US$9.4 billion to build four advanced semiconductor factories in Taiwan.

Taiwanese computer memory chip maker Powerchip Semiconductor plans to spend an estimated NT$312 billion (US$9.4 billion) to build four advanced semiconductor factories in Taiwan, the government agency responsible for vetting investment applications said Tuesday.

The company plans to build four state-of-the-art 12-inch (300-millimeter) chip plants in central Taiwan, said the government's National Science Council, which oversees all investments into Taiwanese science parks.

The company revealed the plan earlier this year, but this is the first time a price has been named.

Each chip plant will be built to produce 50,000 silicon wafers per month at maximum capacity. Thousands of DRAM (dynamic RAM) chips can be made on each 12-inch wafer.

The plants will produce DRAM products including DDR (Double Data Rate) DRAM, DDR2, DATA Flash memory and mobile RAM, the National Science Council said.

In October, a Powerchip executive told IDG News Service that his company planned to build the four new factories over a 6-year period in order to meet rising demand and put the company in a position to become one of the world's leading DRAM suppliers.

Powerchip already has two of the huge 12-inch plants operating in Taiwan. It built the first one just in time to catch a market upturn in 2003, and its second plant is already turning out over 25,000 wafers per month.

Despite the hefty expenditure required for 12-inch plants, they are important in driving down the cost of mass-produced chips. Companies estimate the factories slash the cost of chip production by about a third compared to older, 8-inch (200-mm) factories.

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