Sun Taps Taiwan Semi for Chip Partnership

When Sun switches to 45-nanometer chips, it will use Taiwan Semiconductor to produce this next generation of UltraSPARC processors. 

Sun Microsystems is turning to a new partner to help build its next generation of UltraSPARC microprocessors.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company announced Feb. 19 that it has inked an agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and will use its foundry to manufacture Sun's next-generation, 45-nanometer UltraSPARC processors.

"One of the reasons why we chose TSMC is that when we looked at our road map, we saw the processor nodes changing from 45 nanometers and then to 32 nanometers, and we were looking to increase the performance and the timing [of brining the UltraSPARC processors to market]," said Fadi Azhari, director of marketing for SPARC CMT (chip multithreading technology) for Sun.

"What TSMC offered really fit in what we wanted to do," said Azhari. "The second reason is that TSMC has a high-volume foundry business and we benefit from economies of scale."

For years, Sun relied on Texas Instruments and that company's fabs to produce its microprocessors. Azhari said TI will continue to assist Sun in the development, testing and packaging of its chips, but the bulk of the production for 45-nanometer will now switch to TSMC. TI will continue to produce Sun's line of 65-nanometer processors, including the UltraSPARC T2, or Niagara 2, chip that came to market in August.