On 12th July 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron visited STMicroelectronics’ 300-mm manufacturing site in Crolles, France. He was accompanied by Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, and various French government ministers.
This visit followed the announcement on 11th July of a memorandum of understanding between STMicroelectronics and GlobalFoundries. The two companies will jointly build a new 300 mm semiconductor manufacturing facility alongside the existing one at Crolles.
Supporting Europe’s strategic goals
Backed by a 5.7 billion euro investment and significant support from the French state, the new facility will focus on FD-SOI (Fully Depleted Silicon On Insulator) technology. It will start production in 2023, ramping up to an expected capacity of 620,000 300 mm wafers per year by 2026. In addition, the project will create some 1,000 high value jobs and help develop a wider FD-SOI technology ecosystem.
During the visit, Emmanuel Macron spoke of the crucial role of industry and the microelectronics supply chain for the green and digital transitions and for Europe’s strategic autonomy. Mr Breton expanded further on the significance of the investment in an article published on LinkedIn. He noted that the investment would: “…lead to the world’s largest and most advanced fab for the production of semiconductors in “FD-SOI” technologies being based in Europe”.
FD-SOI – a European strength
In his article, Mr Breton describes FD-SOI as a “European trademark in semiconductors”. It has long been a key R&D area for the French institute, CEA-Leti, with other actors including STMicroelectronics and Soitec active in its industrialization.
The technology’s energy efficiency and resistance to electromagnetic interference make it particularly valuable for space and defence applications. There is also expected to be in high demand for output from the facility for other domains including automotive, IoT, industry 4.0 and mobile communications.
The investment “… is fully in line with the EU Chips Act, an unprecedented European initiative to support the development of a strategic European industrial sector,” adds Mr Breton. He sees Europe as moving towards “… a genuine industrial policy, mobilising EU funds for research, IPCEIs and a new approach to state aid.”
Building industrial leadership
Discussing the Crolles investment, Mr Breton acknowledges Europe’s leadership in semiconductor research, but insists that this is not enough. “… there is no point in being a leader in research if you cannot produce.” He puts the announcement of the new facility in the context of global supply chain tensions, the EU Chips Act and European strategic interests, stating: “There is no industrial leadership without a factory. The upcoming factory is putting Europe on the geopolitical map of advanced semiconductor producing countries.”
Watch keynote speeches (some in French) from the visit: