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December 1999 -  For immediate release ...


THAT Bucks Fabless Trend: Acquires Sipex IC Fab

Wafers in a diffusion furnace

Wafers in a
diffusion furnace


Milford , MA - THAT Corporation, a leading supplier of audio integrated circuits for industrial and professional products, has acquired Sipex Corporation's four-inch wafer fab facility located in Milpitas, California. The facility will give THAT complete control over the IC manufacturing process, from the initial diffusion step through final passivation, packaging, and test.

"We have been quite successful as a fabless IC company," said Les Tyler, president of THAT Corporation. "However, being fabless has limited our ability to introduce the new, high-performance products needed by our customers. Because we specialize in analog, not digital, products, we need complete control of the fabrication process.

Dry masking with Perkin-Elmer aligners
Dry masking with
Perkin-Elmer aligners


"It's easy to be fabless when your products are based on common CMOS technology," continued Mr. Tyler, "but our analog designs require process tweaks that can only happen when we control the process intimately. We now have the world's only IC fab focused on high performance analog audio products."

Win Craft, THAT's Vice President for Marketing and Sales stressed reduced development time as another reason for the acquisition. "Having our own fab will allow us to set our own priorities for development and production. This will significantly reduce our time to market, while improving control over component quality and yield," he said.

Aluminum & thin film sputtering machines
Aluminum & thin film
sputtering machines


The first products expected to come from the new fab are THAT's long-awaited InGenius® balanced audio line receiver, and an advanced array of matched transistors. Both are anticipated in mid 2000. Several other new analog audio products are now in the later stages of design or layout, and are slated for customer sampling by late 2000. "This marks a major step in the evolution of THAT Corporation as an audio IC supplier," said Mr. Craft.

Wafer inspection and probing
Wafer inspection
and probing


THAT Corporation's latest voltage-controlled amplifiers, the THAT2180 and THAT2181, are formed using a dielectric isolation (DI) process. Although the wafers are more difficult to manufacture than those employing junction isolation (JI), the resulting ICs possess higher breakdown voltages and faster speeds than those from conventional processes. "All our new designs take advantage of the dielectric isolation structure," stated Gary Hebert, THAT's Chief Technology Officer. "Sipex has been making four-inch DI wafers at this facility for years, making it a near perfect fit for us. Since the deal involves some specific technology transfer, we're getting a big boost from Sipex to ramp up our own processes very quickly."

The move will give THAT Corporation a strong presence in Silicon Valley, though its headquarters will remain in Massachusetts. All processing in the fab will be under the direction of Chief Process Engineer Ramesh Margsahayam, formerly of Exar Corporation. Margsahayam brings fifteen years of semiconductor manufacturing experience, much of it involved with analog wafer production, as well as a strong background in management, quality control, and materials science.

About THAT Corporation
THAT Corporation, founded in 1989, designs and sells high-performance analog integrated circuits for professional audio manufacturers. THAT’s ICs include analog input and output stages, digitally controlled low-noise preamplifiers, Analog Engines® and its original line of voltage-controlled amplifiers (VCAs) – all used throughout the pro audio industry. The company also licenses patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property to the TV broadcast and reception industries. Licensed products include the dbx-tv® Total™ series of audio enhancement technology and digital implementations of legacy TV audio receiver standards. The company is headquartered in Milford, Massachusetts, with offices in Milpitas, California.

For more information, contact:
  THAT Corporation, 45 Sumner Street, Milford, MA 01757-1656 , USA
  Telephone: +1 (508) 478-9200; Fax +1 (508) 478-0990

Editorial Contact:
  Ken Nevard, IC Marketing Manager
  Tel: +1 (508) 478-9200 x108


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