The big news from this year's press tour of the IMEC research institute was about two things you won't see on the Leuven, Belgium, campus today--a third fab and a new office tower.
Luc Van den Hove, chief executive of Imec, announced plans to have a 450-mm pilot line up and running in 2015. The news implied that's when Imec believes a full line of semiconductor manufacturing equipment for 450-mm wafers should be available-- including the long awaited extreme ultraviolet lithography machines.
A U.S. consortium formed recently to drive the 450-mm wafer generation, announcing plans for a pilot facility in New York. Van den Hove said the move did not steal any of IMEC's thunder or potential business for plowing the way to such a capability.
"One group cannot solve all those challenges," said Van den Hove, claiming the U.S. announcement was no surprise and had no impact on IMEC's plans. "We had detailed discussions with partners, fully knew their needs for 450-mm wafers and had our plans worked out," he said.
"Our 450-mm time table is more conservative than what others have announced, yet it is the most optimistic schedule we can think of," he added.
IMEC will start testing some 450mm wafer tools as early as next year in its existing 300-mm facility which was expanded just last year. A full 450-mm facility won't arrive until about 2015 and will cost at least a billion euros, Van den Hove said.
The good news, IMEC has land available on its leafy campus for the new fab.