DRESDEN, Germany Microprocessor vendor AMDs decision to install the new fab 38 in Dresden makes the region around the Saxonian capital a major semiconductor industry center worldwide. EE Times asked fab 36 manager Udo Nothelfer about the company's road map and potential technological hurdles on the way.
EE Times: With fab 38, AMD is planning to install a very modern production line. But this fab will launch production only in two years. What are AMDs plans for the time between?
Udo Nothelfer: Presently, the main focus of Fab 36 is an aggressive ramp-up for 90-nm chips on 300 mm. Also we are about to complete the 65-nm technology qualification and will bring them to production in the second half of 2006.
EE Times: Are the technological issues solved, especially regarding lithography and materials?
Nothelfer: With the relevant problems, we are through. We are nicely on track and will reach our goal in the second half of the year. Our next major challenge will be the rapid ramp-up of 65-nm volume production. Our goal is quite aggressive: By mid-2007, we want to have the conversion to 65-nm in fab 36 done.
EE Times: In congresses, one hears frequently that this could be the first application field for immersion lithography…
Nothelfer: Not at 65-nm. At this technology node we will use conventional lithography, albeit with the highest possible numerical aperture. At the 45-nm node, of course we will have to deal with immersion lithography.
EE Times: … and extreme ultra violet (EUV)?
Nothelfer: I see the use of EUV only in the more distant future. Immersion lithography as well as mask technology still offer some headroom for future development. I am convinced that we will be able to do to 32-nm without the conversion to EUV. Sure, presently we see first EUV successes and everyone is happy when he sees the exposed wafers. But there is a long way to go for EUV until it can be utilized in industrial volume production. I don't believe that EUV will be ready when it is time to go 32-nm.
For EUV, you need reflective masks instead of transmissive ones – a complete new technology. Not to mention the new resist generations required for EUV. Also, the entire exposure process has to be done under complete vacuum; even the slightest contamination will damage the mirrors and masks. This is very far from a stable production environment.
Even our competitor is starting to agree on this assessment. I see that the opinion in the industry presently now is much more unanimously expressed than it used to be.