SHANGHAI, China Chinese foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. said it's overcoming a bumpy rollout for nanometer-scale manufacturing processes at its 300-mm wafer fab in Beijing.
In December, SMIC chief executive Richard Chang said the company was qualifying DRAMs at the Beijing facility for Germany's Infineon Technologies AG as well as for Japan's Elpida Memory Inc., describing the results as "promising."
However, by February the company had hit a snag, and was having more difficulties than expected trying to find a common toolset to do both the 110-nm trench capacitor technology used by Infineon and the 100-nm stacked capacitor preferred by Elpida.
The delay has made Elpida "very restless," according to people familiar with SMIC's operations. A senior Elpida executive recently said the company was ramping very little at the advanced node in SMIC's Beijing fab, but was focusing instead on its foundry relationship with Taiwan's Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., which runs one 300-mm fab and is due to start production in its second 300-mm wafer facility in the third quarter of 2005.
On the sidelines of an industry trade conference in Shanghai on Tuesday (Mar. 15), SMIC's chief operating officer, Marco Mora, acknowledged the transition from 140-nm to 110-nm and 100-nm had been tough, but said the latter two processes were recently qualified and commercial product at the tighter geometries should start coming out of the Beijing wafer fab this month.
"We did not use the same tool sets as Infineon and Elpida, so we needed to figure out how to make both technologies with a similar toolset. It wouldn't make sense to run separate lines, so we've go it to where about 80 percent of the line uses the same set," Mora said.
Mora said SMIC would start to run 90-nm logic wafers in the Beijing facility in the third quarter of 2005. He added that manufacturing capacity at SMIC's Tianjin facility, which runs 200-mm diameter wafers, would average around 15,000 wafers per month this year, but he added the company has plans to ramp it more aggressively next year and run higher value products at tighter geometries.