The industry has been buzzing this week about the surprise UK announcement that Plus Semi in Swindon and the former X-FAB facility in Plymouth are together being re-launched as Plessey Semiconductors. Both sites had been part of the original Plessey Semiconductors, a name that disappeared in 1989 with the GEC-Siemens takeover that at the time saw these two sites merged with MEDL in Lincoln to form GEC-Plessey Semiconductors (GPS).
The Swindon site in particular has since had a chequered history, becoming first Mitel Semiconductors and then part of Zarlink before being sold in 2008 to French component manufacturer MHS for the nominal sum of €1. The business was acquired by Plus Semiconductors in May 2009 after MHS had been placed into administration.
The new Plessey Semiconductors Limited has already started trading from its semiconductor manufacturing facility in Roborough, Plymouth, UK, which currently produces eight-inch wafers for external customers in a foundry business model on 0.35-micron CMOS process technologies. The new company is transferring its bipolar process technologies on both silicon and silicon-on-insulator substrates into the Roborough facility during the course of 2010. Both the CMOS and the bipolar process technologies will be used to support a set of existing foundry customers. Plessey Semiconductors has also declared the aim of following in its namesake's footsteps by developing and supporting a range of high performance analogue and mixed-signal semiconductor products.
"The historical significance of what we are doing is not lost on the management and employees of our new business," said Michael LeGoff, Managing Director of Plessey Semiconductors Ltd. "A large proportion of our employees started their careers in Plessey working in the various sites around the UK. We see this announcement as a return to our roots. This is a business model that addresses a market that we know very well – designing and manufacturing a set of high technology semiconductor products that competes with any semiconductor company in the world."
The UK's South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) is part-funding the project by providing nearly £1 million under the Grant for Business Investment scheme on completion of the deal.
Plessey Semiconductors' activities include the development and manufacture of CMOS and bipolar analogue mixed-signal processes, and products designed for RF and sensing applications in the electronics, telecommunications, defence, medical, aerospace and automotive sectors. Processes include CMOS, bipolar, complementary bipolar and BiCMOS process technologies on both silicon and silicon-on-insulator substrates.