Motorola Wednesday announced steps it will take to radically accelerate its smartcard semiconductor process roadmap.
To date, the industry, unlike other sectors in the semiconductor market, has continued to use 6-inch wafer fabs. The dramatic growth forecast in volume and increasing demands for card memory capacity, however, has stimulated the need for change. Motorola has, therefore, made the strategic decision to be the first in this industry to move to 8-inch wafers for its flagship products.
One of Motorola’s most advanced factories, MOS 12 in Phoenix, where the Semiconductor Product Sector recently announced a $1.1 billion expansion, has been selected to meet the challenge.
Chris Belden, consumer and transportation’s director of manufacturing, said “We are delighted to help this emerging industry meet the future explosive demand. We have been preparing for this program in the last year and are excited to help fulfill the vision of products that can personalize everything from your wallet to your phone and even your PC.”
A technology leap to 0.4 micron feature sizes has been made to date and a further shrink plan to 0.27 micron will be implemented in the near future. Motorola has emphasized that the strategy of its decision to proceed with 8-inch wafers was taken with the firm understanding that its aim is to evolve and upgrade the product’s technology over time.
Mike Inglis, division manager for Motorola Smart Information Transfer, explained the company’s rationale. “We believe advanced technology will play a significant role in encouraging our customers to migrate towards increased feature cards — for example, more data in a health card or more ‘phone numbers’ in a GSM card. The technology will also enable the emerging multi-application card markets so that points gained from loyalty schemes can be debited directly to the card user’s bank account.
“The new smaller feature size process offers the capability for increased EEPROM capacity and superior ROM and RAM to expand memory capacity. We will also reduce personalization times and enhance security.”
The first of the devices to be processed will use the industry standard 8-bit M68HC05 microprocessor core. This means that existing tried and tested security assembler code can be used — consequently, providing customers with reassurance about re-use.
Inglis went on to comment “Later in the year we will have even more to discuss with the unveiling of a new secure Advanced core for smartcards. The former answers today’s market demands by providing additional capabilities and introducing the possibility of multiple applications, while still allowing the use of current accredited applications. The latter holds the key to creating true multi-application cards and provides a platform from which smartcards can leap into the next century and support emerging operating systems such as JavaCard and Multos.”
Inglis concluded “We are delighted with the improvements the new process offers, as well as the avenues it will open up. Fifteen months ago Motorola dramatically changed all its smartcard semiconductor plans following a major strategic review. During the last 12 months we have been working to consolidate these plans. Our major customers are all very excited by these products, as are the financial and communications markets.
“The benefits Motorola’s new process will bring reaffirm the company’s flare for innovation and capacity to lead the market by producing cost-effective answers for today and radical new solutions for tomorrow.”
EDITOR’S NOTE The Smart Information Transfer Division is a business within Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector, and is one of the world’s leading suppliers of microprocessor chips for smartcards with shipments of more than 300 million units to date.
With 1997 worldwide sales of $8.0 billion, Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector develops the essential building blocks to help its customers create new opportunities in the consumer, networking and computing, transportation and wireless communications markets.
In the global marketplace, Motorola also is one of the leading providers of wireless communications, advanced electronic systems, components and services. Major equipment businesses include cellular telephone, two-way radio, paging and data communications, personal communications, automotive, defense and space electronics and computers. Corporate sales in 1997 were $29.8 billion.
Further information on Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector can be found in the SPS Web site —Details