Malcolm Penn, CEO of technology and market analysis company Future Horizons Ltd., believes in the importance of retaining control of manufacturing passionately. He has spoken many times of the fab-lite business model as a being merely the reprehensible and drawn-out process of abandoning manufacturing.
Penn has also long-warned that abandoning chip manufacturing in Europe would have consequences in terms of our ability to create jobs here and to create value that can be exported. We are starting to stare those consequences in the face as countries across Europe teeter on the edge of bankruptcy.
Penn has now had the opportunity to flesh out his thesis in a substantial report prepared for the European Commission. There are indications that at least some bureaucrats in Brussels are coming round to Penn's point of view. But that is not enough.
It seems likely that a 450-mm pilot fab based at IMEC's site in Leuven, Belgium will happen. But beyond that, if any of the more ambitious plans touched on in the report are going to happen they need both metaphorical and literal buy-in from the European chip companies.
Last time I took the temperature in Europe on this subject, the European Commission was a lot more interested in it than the indigenous European companies. When it comes to using European tax payers' money to support 450-mm chip manufacturing the European chip companies tend to point to more urgent and near-term things they need to spend the taxpayers' money on.
Meanwhile both the bureaucrats and those chip company leaders are being distracted by the implosion of the eurozone and the global financial crisis that it could trigger. I heard this quote with reference to the bankers and politicians of Europe: "When faced with a difficult decision it is natural for human beings to choose denial." With regard to the euro, European federalism and the radical stimulus of engineering-based value creation I suspect we are all somewhere along the longest of Africa's rivers.
Peter - I give you some real insight
Once upon a time there was LRCX and NVLS.
Intel wants 450mm - NVLS said no.
SO Intel pushed some buttons -
and in return LRCX will get some etch business from Intel.
That's how it works in the real world.
KLA already supplying 450 mm tools to Intel .
You just way behind the curve
Unless you mean KLA is supplying 450-mm capable tools to Intel IN LEIXLIP I don't see how your statement has a lot of relevance to this article.
I was trying to elaborate on whether there is an appetite for the cost of 450-mm wafer processing in Europe -- ever, and particularly by European-based companies.
KLA supplying 450-mm tools to Intel in Oregon and Arizona would make it more likely that Intel MIGHT produce on 450-mm wafers in Europe, some day.
Intel has been getting closer to the European Commission over the last five years. Spreading the 450-mm love around might be part of the cost of being a good European citizen.
I think the most interesting point in the article is that European managers and companies are not able to compete against Asian and US American companies in advanced electronic production and products, and that the result can allready be seen in the crisis of some European countries and the Euro.
When you look at TV's, mobile phones and memory products as DRAM and NAND Flash, all production more or less disappeared from Europe (Nokia is still there at the moment, that's true for the moment). TV's are gone, Siemens gave up mobile development and production, Qimonda is gone, ST gave up all NAND activities, Infineon sold its wireless to intel, ...
The question is what will be the basis for the European prosperity in the future when the European companies, countries and the EU commision does not see any value in the advanced electronic industry and does not show any activities to keep these sectors in Europe, as it was the case in the mentioned examples.
This seems to be very different in countries like Abu Dhabi in form of ATIC which spend billions of dollars to form Global Foundries.
For all this reasons I think there will be never a 450-mm Fab or even Foundry in Europe, because there are simply no capable managers nor European politicians.
There's a lot of discussion of SOI in the report. In case anyone's wondering, ramping of SOI wafers (for FD-SOI, FinFETs, PD-SOI etc) at 450mm is on schedule for the industry ramp. See http://www.advancedsubstratenews.com/2011/09/ultra-thin-wafers-for-450mm-fd-soi-on-schedule/.
STMicroelectronics, Infineon and others may disagree.
They might like to see the European Union support them with upgrades of their older fabs for More-than-Moore production.
So who should we support: U.S. companies Intel and GlobalFoundries that manufacture and create jobs in Europe..or European companies who manufacture overseas?