CHENGDU, China -- Contrary to some reports, the shift towards 450-mm fabs is still unlikely for the foreseeable future due to costs, according to VLSI Research Inc.
Large chip vendors such as Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Taiwan Semiconductor Co. (TSMC) are clamoring for a migration 450-mm wafers, which would enable them to build more chips per die and increase profits. These companies hope to build prototype 450-mm fabs by 2012.
The probability that the semiconductor industry will one day use 450-mm silicon wafers in manufacturing has increased significantly, though the chance of achieving volume production by the original target date of 2012 is remote, according to a new report by analysts at Semico Research Corp.
But now, even some equipment suppliers--many of which have resisted the move to 450-mm--are starting to come around, according to Semico (Phoenix).
Others have another viewpoint. ''450-mm is a hot topic all of a sudden. Itís a good sign that the downturnís really over whenever a new wafer size gets industry attention,'' said G. Dan Hutcheson, chief executive of VLSI Research, in a report.
''While many are focused on when, I think the bigger issue is how to get the technology to the next level. At a minimum, that is going to take a commitment of at least $1 billion to a consortium to take the technology to the next level: early production prototype tool sets,'' he said.
''I donít see any signs of that happening. In the downturn the money was not there due to the 'American Financial Crisis.' Now itís not there because all available money is going into expanding current capacity,'' he said.
''Without such an investment and commitment, 450-mm will remain stalled in the wafer handing and standardization phase. We need to start proving out processes, and that will take real tools,'' he added.