Unitive, the RTP-based company that is focused on making silicon chips smaller, faster and lighter, has a new partner and customer — UMC, which happens to be one of the largest semiconductor foundries in the world.

Under the agreement, UMC (NYSE: UMC) has “qualified” Unitive Taiwan’s so-called eutectic wafer bumping technology and is promoting it to customers for high-performance semiconductors used in computing, wireless and communications applications.

In other words, says Unitive spokesman David Pasquale, UMC validated Unitive’s technology by putting it into production. Pasquale says it is a “quality control” process because of the “highly sensitive operations.”

“The fact that you have UMC, one of the largest foundries in the world, using your technology – aside from validating the company’s technology but from a revenue stream standpoint – helps continue to move the company in the direction that it has been going,” Pasquale explains.

The partnership will provide UMC with advanced technology and production capabilities for solder bumping. Additionally, Unitive’s Taiwan facilities, which it expanded last January, can provide the capacity to meet UMC’s bumping requirements. The total capacity is around 400,000 wafers annually, and the facility has an ultimate capacity of 720,000, but Unitive says ramping of production to this amount will be determined by customer demand.

Wafer bumping is the process of depositing a tiny array of solder bumps on the wafer to form the interconnect for flip chip packaging.

“UMC’s qualification of Unitive Taiwan eutectic wafer bumping opens up an important door for us and builds on our momentum,” Daniel Teng, president of Unitive Taiwan, said in a statement. “We provide UMC and their customers seamless integration and a state-of-the-art virtual supply chain.”

Since its formation in 1980, UMC has delivered foundry technologies that enable sophisticated system-on-chip designs. The company employs over 8,500 people worldwide and has offices in Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Europe (based in Amsterdam) and the United States, where its main office is in Sunnyvale,

Unitive is based in Research Triangle Park and has two manufacturing
factories, one located in Taiwan and the other in RTP. Unitive’s services include multi-level passivation and thin film wiring, solder bumping, and chip scale packaging.

The company’s strategic investors include leading financial and industry pioneers such as Onex, Celestica, Flextronics, Fairchild Semiconductor, Conexant Systems and Wah Lee.

Formed in 1996 by former CEO Wayne Machon on a $500,000 loan from MCNC, Unitive later spun off from the previously state-sponsored research facility. Last March, the company raised $30 million in a private equity offering led by Onex. Five months later, in August, Unitive secured $2 million in financing from Transamerica Technology Finance. That same month, Ken Donahue replaced Machon, who retired as CEO to spend more time with his family. Donahue was promoted from the position of vice president and chief financial officer, which Arthur Bergens has held since April.