Cypress Semiconductor Moves into Solar Business

December 30, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (San Jose, CA) recently revealed that it is looking outside chips for some of its future growth, and has entered the solar panel business. It's an offshoot field for Cypress, but solar cells are made on wafers, similar to the way chips are made. Cypress sells its solar cells to companies that make these panels, and sells some panels under its own brand.

"We're making solar cells in Texas right now," said Cypress Chief Executive T.J. Rodgers. "And we're launching a big plant right now in the Philippines that will be producing solar cells by the end of the year."

To help facilitate this new strategy, Cypress bought SunPower in May 2002. SunPower provided the solar panels used by NASA's Helios unmanned airplane, which flew nearly 100,000ft above the Earth, a record height. Cypress has also revealed that its first and only acquisition of 2003 is the privately held Cascade Semiconductor, which has been purchased for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock. The deal should close this month. Cascade specializes in a type of chip called a single transistor memory. Product makers prize such devices because they use little power.