AUSTIN, Texas -- Despite some resistance among many fab tool makers, International Sematech claims that it continues to make progress in 450-mm fab technology, saying that it is in the ''test wafer generation'' stage in the arena.
The chip-making consortium is developing and shipping prototype 450-mm wafers to consortium members. Sematech (Albany, New York) is also in the process of bringing up a clean room for the technology, said Scott Kramer, vice president of manufacturing at International Sematech.
Sematech is spearheading the 450-mm fab effort. The chip-making consortium has devised a 450-mm ''test bed'' in Austin. The ''test bed'' is located within an R&D fab once owned by Sematech. That facility was recently acquired by SVTC Technologies Inc., an R&D foundry.
The ''test bed'' consists of various and prototype fab automation tools and handlers. Now, the consortium is looking to bring up a clean room in the SVTC facility, Kramer said, without elaborating.
Sematech is also shipping 450-mm test wafers to members, which are being processed with etchers and other tools. ''We are in the wafer generation stage,'' he told EE Times. ''We are moving forward, but there are question marks.''
As reported, Intel, TSMC and Samsung are separately pushing for the advent of 450-mm ''prototype'' fabs by 2012. Some believe 450-mm fabs will never happen, saying the R&D costs are too expensive. Still to be seen, however, is who will pay for the 450-mm R&D. A 450-mm fab is expected to cost $10 billion, some estimated.
Sematech is expected to disclose more details about its 450-mm efforts on Thursday.