Tom's Hardware Visits STMicroelectronics In Rennes, France

Challenges For The Rennes Site

The increase in business at STM’s Rennes site since 2003 has resulted in new hirings, better management of the facilities, the installation of new equipment, and improvements in processes. Aerospace work requires highly “manual” processes, given the relatively small quantities of chips sold and the many fabrication stages they undergo. The Rennes site produces approximately 200,000 units per year. A normal back end at STMicroelectronics produces between 12 million and 15 million per day.

Faced with the burgeoning growth in demand, Patrick Galloy says if he had that magic wand, he’d use it to produce more and faster, right away. But the constraints of aerospace production require careful management of any increase in production, taking costs into account and maintaining the reliability of the products that leave the plants.

STMicroelectronics invests between $500,000 and $800,000 a year in the Rennes fab. It plans to hire a night shift and install semiautomatic machines to optimize production. A project called Sirius has also been launched with the goal of improving employee working conditions and performance.

Another challenge is training the teams in the different quality standards. The aerospace industry is too small for schools to offer courses aimed at that specific market. So the site hires engineers and trains them in certification requirements itself, in partnership with the ESA.

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  • Scionyde
    "The poor overall economic picture and pessimistic approach newspapers like to take in speaking of the electronics industry in France would lead you to think that that scenario is utopian at best."

    Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but isn't 'utopian' the exact opposite of the word you were intending to use there?
  • vancedecker
    This is really cool. A totally unexpected article in the swamp of cell phone reviews and press releases, on other sites...
  • blackmagnum
    Vive la France !
  • army_ant7
    I'm thinking that "utopian" was used in a way to mean something highly unachievable, unlikely, or unfeasible. I'm not sure how that would apply though and I can't speak for the author. I'm not sure if this helps explain that...
  • jasonelmore
    well written article. Keep more content like this coming.
  • vaughn2k
    "Once the die is mounted in its case, the wires must be soldered to connect the chip and the pins. This operation can seem archaic compared with the processors used in PCs or smartphones, whose dies are connected via direct contact with bumps on their epoxy carriers." - The wire is not soldered to the pins but welded using an ultrasonic force + power - or Ultrasonic wirebonding. The head of the tool where the wire (either it is an Al or Au wire) comes out, generates this combination of ulrasonic energy to be able to connect the die pad and pins. If an Au wire is used, the process adds a thermal property, which is also called thermosonic bonding. CPU and smart phone chips (and virtually all chips) uses the same process. However, most assembly uses Au wire or Cu wire, instead of Al wire. Another process that is used o intorconnect chips to substrate is called flip-chip bonding, or soldering or ILB (inner lead bonding), and then going into the process of underfilling, to protect these interconnects.
  • vaughn2k
    "The testing also checks for the presence of particles inside the packages" - It is called PIND test (Particle Impact Noise Detection). It is in MIL-STD 883E method 2020.8 -- ;)
  • vaughn2k
    damn this refesh button..... :( sorry for the double post..
  • WyomingKnott
    What double-post? I don't see one.

    More practically, you should be able to delete your own post by going to the forum version of the comments. Click on the blue icon with quotation marks, full-edit the duplicate post, and there should be a delete button.
  • Anonymous
    Hey, and what about Goodram? Isn't it the last european based manufacturer of ram, flash, ssd etc? Can you please make a small trip there as well?