AUSTIN, Texas Though only about 1 percent of all chips are made on 300-mm wafers currently, an Applied Materials Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.) executive said that the cost crossover between 300-mm and 200-mm wafers will occur late this year.
Following Applied's annual shareholders meeting Thursday, executive vice president David N.K. Wang said the industry "will get to the cost crossover by the end of the year," with the cost of processing a square inch of silicon less expensive on a 300-mm wafer than on a 200-mm substrate.
Quoting estimates from market research firms Gartner-Dataquest and VLSI Research, Wang estimated that about half of the roughly $20 billion expected to be spend this year on fab equipment will be for 300-mm enabled equipment.
Seven 300-mm fabs are in operation or coming on line this year, creating a total 300-mm wafer capacity of about 240,000 wafers per month by the end of this year, he said.
Because those new fabs will all be geared toward 130-nm design rules and below, exclusively on copper interconnects, the new 300-mm capacity will "encourage increased design activity at 130-nm," said Wang.
In the first quarter of 2003, only about 3 to 4 percent of the chips produced are at 130-nm design rules, he said, again quoting market research estimates.
That will change sharply over the next year and one-half. Applied estimates that in 2004 about 17 million 8-inch-equivalent wafers will be processed at 130-nm design rules for the PC, cellular handset, video game, and digital consumer sectors.