Motorola is to join with Philips and ST Microelectronics in an alliance aimed at speeding the development of a number of key new silicon technologies and designs.
Motorola, Philips and ST will be equal partners in the five-year alliance, splitting around $1.4bn in planned investment. The group will work on a variety of new silicon technologies including advanced 'system-on-a-chip' processors, embedded MRAM technologies and copper interconnect.
Motorola's decision to team up on development comes as chip companies work out ways to develop and manufacture increasingly expensive technologies as they try and recover from the worst slump in the history of the semiconductor industry.
"Development alliances are just the smart thing to do these days," said Motorola spokesman Scott Stevens.
The new alliance is the latest in a number of partnerships that have seen chip companies looking to share development costs. Earlier this year Advanced Micro Devices and Taiwan's United Microelectronics announced a joint venture, and IBM recently expanded an existing chip pact with its own alliance partners Sony and Toshiba.
To develop manufacturing techniques for the new designs, the new group will work with chip manufacturer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) to develop 90-nanometer and smaller manufacturing processes and 300-millimeter wafers. Most current chips are built at 180- or 130-nanometer levels.
Each of the three member companies in the alliance will have an equal vote on its development but according to Motorola, how intellectual property rights will be handled by each of the participating companies has not been decided. But the aim is to minimise any licensing fees between the partners.
"When the technology leaves the labs, the aim is that it will be each partner's to do what they want with it. Then we will compete to market our products," said Stevens.
Around 150 Motorola engineers are expected to transfer to the Philips and ST Microelectronics established research and development centre in Crolles, France, where the alliance will be based.
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