In September, semiconductor player Weebit Nano (ASX:WBT) signed the first commercial deal to take its ReRAM technology to volume production with US-based SkyWater.

And this month the company – along with development partner CEA-Leti – demonstrated production-level parameters of its technology in a 28 nanometre (nm) process.

Speaking with Stockhead, Weebit Nano CEO Coby Hanoch said these are massive milestones for the company’s move from R&D into commercial production.


You’ve secured your first commercial deal with a subsidiary of semiconductor foundry SkyWater Technology Inc – that validation must feel good?

“With SkyWater we broke this crazy interdependency, where you want to get out to the market and start talking to the customers and they say ‘Wow, that’s neat but where can we manufacture it?’

“And then you go to the fab (the fabs are where you manufacture semiconductors), and they say ‘Oh, that’s neat – do you have any customers?’

“It’s kind of this infinite loop and we managed to break it with SkyWater who realised the strategic potential in our tech.

“It’s really important to understand that with the huge shortage in the semiconductor world, with cars being delayed and almost any electronic component late on delivery, that fabs are not manufacturing enough.

“So, SkyWater is swamped with work that can generate revenue and they see our tech as so strategic that they are actually stopping the production line on things that generate revenue and they are working with us to transfer our technology to their fabs.

“This is a huge confirmation of just how important our technology is.

“And not only that, as we progress with the transfer, we’re going to get licence fee payments from them.

“It’s a very important milestone and the result was that other fabs already noticed and it triggered discussions with customers that we talked with in the past who can now see where they can manufacture it.”


You recently demonstrated you can scale your tech to 28 nanometers. What does that mean for your commercialisation plans?

“We’re really moving the company to the next stage. Today, 28 nanometres is actually one of the most popular, if not the most popular technology node in semiconductors.

“And I’m not the only one saying that, the chairman of TSMC (NYSE:TSM), the largest fab in the world, just said it in their quarterly.

“It’s a very important and advanced node to reach. It’s where the most advanced products are – the artificial intelligence, the advanced autonomous vehicles, and so on.

“Getting to 28 is a very important milestone, and it opens the door now to go down to even smaller geometry. And we’re at the point now where we can take that technology and talks to fabs and get it ready for mass production.

“We’re already talking to some of the fabs about our different technologies and how we move forward.”


Is Weebit feeling any strain from the geopolitical tension between US and China in the semiconductor space?

“Many people think that there’s an all-out economic war going on; the truth is that the big American companies are continuing to manufacture in China, there’s still a lot of activity going on between the countries. It’s not like there’s suddenly a disconnect – but you can’t ignore the situation.

“We are very conscious of what’s going on, we’re monitoring it very closely. People know that we’ve talked to Chinese fabs and customers in the past – and we’re continuing to talk to them – but we ended up working with SkyWater first.

“It will be easier for us to move forward faster with them, and SkyWater is an advanced, accredited fab trusted by the US government, so we’re very happy with the fact that we managed to move forward with SkyWater first.”


What’s next for the company?

“On the business side, there’s a big focus now on customers – we’re talking to both Weebit and SkyWater customers now that we have a fab that can actually manufacture.

“On the technical side, we want to make sure that SkyWater is a huge success so we’re putting everything we have into making this transfer as smooth as possible, and into getting the technology qualified as fast as we can.

“But in parallel, we’re already talking to other fabs and we’re looking at other opportunities to move forward.

“And of course, getting to 28 nanometre now, we’re ready to move to a fab as well.

“It’s exciting times for Weebit and I think people will see these announcements and that we’re not R&D anymore.

“We’re continuing intensive R&D but we’re now a company that’s already starting to do commercial deals, and we can start to generate larger revenues in the future.”