In a brief statement, the companies said they "initiated a joint study on the feasibility of an independent semiconductor foundry business offering advanced fabrication processes to which each of the companies could outsource fabrication." The joint study will "consider establishing...a planning company, the outline of which is not yet decided."
The semiconductor business is growing, but the increasing cost to build chip factories, also called fabs, meansinstead of in-house manufacturing.
Consequently, it's common for those with fab expertise to build others' chip designs--for example, Texas Instruments makes Sun Microsystems'processors. Among the chip foundry specialists are and , also in Taiwan, and , which operates out of Singapore.
Several companies, however, still make their own processors. Most notable is Intel, but its rival. IBM builds chips, though its microelectronics division suffered financially and was .