Thu, Sep 14, 2017 - Page 12 News List

CHPT moving into aerospace with new buyer

TAKING OFF:The firm saw record revenue last month. Its new NT$1.61 billion factory for next generation probe cards is set to open in 2019

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Chunghwa Precision Test Technology Co (CHPT, 中華精測), the nation’s biggest probe card supplier, yesterday said it had landed a major order to supply advanced probe cards for commercial satellite development, expanding its business scope to the aerospace industry amid rumors that SpaceX is involved.

Probe cards are interfaces between systems and chip wafers typically used to test for faulty circuits and other errors before the wafers are cut into chips.

CHPT in June inked a long-term contract with a customer, company president Scott Huang (黃水可) told reporters yesterday.

The Taoyuan-based company is to supply print circuit boards (PCB), which are used in wafer probe cards, to the client.

Huang declined to confirm whether the client is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday based on photographic evidence.

SpaceX, which designs and launches rockets and spacecraft, carried the National Space Organization’s Formosa-5 satellite into orbit from California last month.

A new factory worth NT$1.61 billion (US$53.6 million) is under construction for the manufacturing of the new-generation probe cards, the company said.

“We plan to start small-volume production in 2019 after passing customer’s qualification in 2018. The plant will then enter mass production in 2020,” Huang said.

CHPT is seeking to reduce operational risks by diversifying to the aerospace industry, Huang said, adding that it concentrates on supplying probe cards to semiconductor companies, he said.

The company has assembled a team of between 40 and 50 people to develop products for use in satellite development.

CHPT counts Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and Intel Corp as two of its major clients.

TSMC supplies A11 chips for Apple Inc’s latest iPhones series, as well as Huawei Technologies Co’s (華為) first chip with AI features, dubbed Kirin 970, for its latest flagship phone.

Huang yesterday gave an upbeat outlook for the company’s revenue in the second half.

“Revenue could hit a record high again in September or October,” Huang said. “The uptrend should be very similar with that of last year.”

The company’s revenue reached an all-time high of NT$18.37 billion last month.

This year, probe cards for 10-nanometer technology are the main driver of growth, Huang said.

Next year, probe cards for 7-nanometer technology should fuel growth and could grow to account for more than 10 percent of CHPT’s overall revenue, Huang said.

Shares in CHPT sank 1.48 percent to NT$1,330 in Taipei trading yesterday, underperforming the TAIEX, which lost 0.73 percent.

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