Thursday, September 06, 2012

ST 65nm BSI Process to be Openly Available through UMC

PR Newswire, EETimes: UMC joins forces with ST to develop 65nm BSI process. The partnership follows upon the two companies' success to port ST's FSI processes to UMC's 300mm Fab 12i in Singapore. The 1.1um pixel BSI process, which will also be developed at Fab12i, will be available as an open platform for customers through a licensing agreement with ST.

Po-Wen Yen, Senior Vice president of 12-inch Operations at UMC said, "We are happy to extend our relationship with our long-time partner STMicroelectronics through this co-development effort. This agreement is consistent with UMC's open collaboration strategy to deliver customer-driven foundry solutions to address ever evolving market requirements. We look forward to further strengthening our comprehensive technology portfolio with this CIS BSI process."

"ST's previous successes in imaging technologies with UMC gives us great confidence in the development of this next-generation image-sensor process technology with UMC," said Eric Aussedat, Corporate Vice President Imaging, Bi-CMOS, ASIC and Silicon Photonics Group.

Initially, the new process is targeted to fast-growing applications such as smartphone, tablet, high-end surveillance, and DSC/DSLR. The long lifetime expectancy of the BSI process should help it to be adopted for automotive and industrial fields in the coming years.

Thanks to RF for sending me the link!


  1. What fo you mean by "long life expectancy of
    The BSI process?" Do you mean that it will be an industry standard for a long time?

    1. I've just re-phrased it from UMC PR. The original text is: "The development of this newest 65nm CIS technology will capitalize on the long lifetime expectancy of the BSI process, which in addition to serving today's applications, is expected to be adopted for automotive and industrial fields in the coming years."

      To me, UMC has intended to say that it plans to keep this process around for many years, so slowly ramping customers, such as automotive, can be sure that it's still available, say, 10 years from now.

      Looking back, 0.18um process used to be the industry mainstay for many years. There are still many foundries running this process, it's relatively cheap, mature, well studied and documented. In China, there are still many new design starts in 0.18um process.

      Some are saying that 65nm will be the next mainstay in the industry. Only time will tell if this is true. 65nm is becoming cheaper each year, more and more foundries master it, it's almost as fast as 40nm and not much slower than the modern 28nm, the power is on the high side, but it still has its chances to become the next 0.18um.

    2. Vladimir...

      can you define "relatively cheap"?

    3. I meant 0.18um is cheaper than more advanced processes. There are few components of this: wafer price, mask set price and IP blocks price. They all are lower in 0.18um.

    4. Vladimir, thank you.

      If possible, just for us OLD guys who don't get to use the latest/greatest features...

      How much DOES a 65nm run cost? Mask set? 2 engineering weafers? BSI?

      thanks in advance.

    5. Sorry. As you might have guessed, this is NDA-ed info. Generally speaking, the prices differ a lot depending on the volume, so Omnivision and Himax prices are much lower than what one pays for just 2 engineering wafers (not that I know how much they are paying, just rumors). Also, if one goes into high-volume manufacturing, there are all sorts of deals, like the mask cost can be gotten back in free or discounted wafers, or some such.

      Also, some foundries allow you to bring your own masks from an external mask shop. That way the mask set price can be halved, but you should know very well what you are doing (OPC, mask grades, mask shop quality control, etc.). And if anything goes wrong, you are on your own.

      Having UMC 65nm CIS process with ST's 1.1um pixel openly available might be a game changer. I can think of many China, Korea and Taiwan-based companies starting to produce competitive 1.1um pixel sensors. It can completely change the industry landscape.


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