TECHNOLOGY / R&D AND INNOVATION
2015 Year in Review
This past year saw many achievements for TowerJazz including: reaching a $1B annual revenue run rate, aligning with first tier customers to develop multiple generation analog roadmaps, and acquiring capacity to guarantee multi-year utilization levels.
In 2015, TowerJazz announced the expansion of our worldwide manufacturing capabilities with the acquisition of Maxim Integrated’s 8-inch fab in San Antonio, Texas, USA. The availability of additional capacity will serve our current and forecasted strong customer demand, enable additional manufacturing flexibility and cost-efficiencies, and increase production by approximately 28,000 wafers per month. We plan to quickly qualify our core specialty technologies in this facility, including our advanced radio-frequency silicon-on-insulator (RF SOI) offering, to serve the substantial growth in demand from our customers.
Research & Development
TowerJazz has created an innovation environment cultivated by the knowledge and skills of highly educated and experienced R&D staff in all our fabs, worldwide. Each of the sites has specific experience such as RF & MEMS in Newport Beach (CA); CMOS image sensors, NVM and power devices in Migdal Haemek (Israel); and automotive chips, scaled down CMOS and CMOS with embedded features in Japanese fabs. In 2015, we fostered collaboration between sites for R&D in parallel with the manufacturing strategy that included technology transfers between the sites. Putting together the experience of R&D engineers from diverse fields brought up novel ideas that opened breakthrough business opportunities for TowerJazz customers.
2015 Technology Highlights
In all of TowerJazz’s Business Units (BUs), innovation projects furthered technological advancements to support our customers’ next-generation devices.
RF & High Performance Analog
In RF SOI, 2015 saw the expansion of TowerJazz’s manufacturing footprint with high-volume production now coming from both our US and Israeli factories across all production RF SOI and RF CMOS nodes. Also in 2015, TowerJazz achieved an industry best Ron-Coff figure of merit for an RF SOI device at sub-90fs from TPSCo’s 300mm facility in Uozu, Japan. In SiGe, we ramped production in low-noise amplifiers and began production of a new line of power amplifiers for smartphones and other mobile platforms. Our high-speed SiGe platform was used for some of the industry’s most impressive demonstrations such as UCSD’s 5G 256-element 60GHz phased array transmitter.
TowerJazz has been expanding its advanced 0.18-micron power management process (TS18PM), offering 30% improvement in Rdson which directly translates into efficiency improvement, lower power consumption, and reduction in size. This platform targets more than 40% of today’s power market, including computer, wireless, industrial, and automotive applications. One of the end applications utilizing TowerJazz’s TS18PM platform is a touch screen controller which enables special capabilities of sensing multi-fingers touch and a digital pen (stylus). Recently, this advanced digital pen technology was acquired by Microsoft for use with its Surface products.
CMOS Image Sensor
In the past year, TowerJazz has developed many new technologies with some already reaching the mass production stage including a small global shutter (GS) pixel with Near IR (near infrared) sensitivity for 3D gesture control applications. The pixels are true CDS (correlated double sampling) pixels, known as 6T pixels. In parallel, we announced the mass production start of an advanced IR Sensor for depth sensing technology and a BSI sensor with extremely good response for UV in China. The BSI activity has been developed successfully with a partner in Europe for numerous customers. In addition, TowerJazz has developed a unique “gated” pixel to be used in the automotive area as part of the emerging automotive ADAS (automatic drive assistant systems) market for lane departure warning and night vision.
During the last year, TowerJazz has successfully qualified some of its mixed-signal and CMOS platforms to TPSCo, creating more available capacity and manufacturing flexibility for the benefit of its customers. Also, TowerJazz announced the first 65nm millimeter wave (mmWave) RFCMOS platform targeted for a variety of applications, such as wireless communication (60~77GHz), automotive radar (57~86, mostly 77GHz), and imaging and scanning (100GHz), among others.
2015 was very busy for the TOPS BU with aggressive ramping of several large customer transfers in parallel at TPSCo’s Tonami, Japan fab as well as the start of high volume production after a fast ramp for one of TowerJazz’s key customers in Israel. The main customer applications currently supported by TOPS are discrete FETS for power applications, non-volatile memory (NVM), and magnetic memories, although TOPS can accommodate any customer flow.
Aerospace & Defense
Recent activities to further support aero/military customers include the DMEA (Defense Microelectronics Activity) Accreditation of Jazz Semiconductor Trusted Foundry (JSTF), and implementation of new technologies that may be developed by A&D customers for applicability in the aero/military market, including CMOS image sensors, ROICs, and new capabilities for infrared (IR) camera components.