Motorola gets first silicon at Chinese fab

The first working semiconductors have been produced at Motorola Inc.'s Tianjin Integrated Semiconductor Manufacturing Complex in China's northeastern city of Tianjin, the company announced Wednesday.

The US$1.9 billion facility is Motorola's first wafer fabrication plant in China, according to Motorola spokesman Scott Stevens. The Tianjin fab uses a 0.35-micron chip-making process and will produce 3,000 8-inch silicon wafers per week when it goes online during the first quarter of 2002, Stevens said. The plant will produce chips for wireless communication devices such as cell phones, he said.

While communications chip makers have been hit hard by a global slump in semiconductor sales, Motorola hopes to benefit from the fab's close proximity to wireless device manufacturers with factories in China, where demand for wireless products remains relatively strong, Stevens said.

The Tianjin fab has been under construction since 1997, Stevens said. Construction was halted in 1998 as a result of the Asian financial crisis and did not resume again until last year, he said.

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