LONDON – The Flemish Minister of Innovation, Ingrid Lieten, has made a commitment to invest in the building of clean room facilities for 450-mm diameter wafer processing at the IMEC research institute's pilot wafer fab in Leuven, Belgium.
No specific amount of money from the Flemish government was disclosed but IMEC said the support of the Flemish government will enable the building of a 100 million euro (about $120 million) clean room infrastructure. IMEC said that in total it plans to spend 1 billion euro (about $1.2 billion) on the wafer fab over the next 5 years with a goal of opening the 450-mm clean room facilities in 2015.
IMEC is negotiating a support package with the European Commission and IMEC's industrial partners: the foundries, fabless and fablite companies, equipment and material suppliers.
IMEC wants to continue to play a leading role in the research of semiconductor processes and technologies and that will require a transition of its 300-mm clean room to 450-mm. Leading process technologies at 10-nm and below may never been manufactured on small diameter wafers.
However, IMEC is in competition with the formation of the Global 450 Consortium (G450C) at College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, New York. This $4.8 billion collaboration, headquartered and housed at CNSE is supported by the state of New York and includes five chipmakers who have an interest in 450-mm diameter wafers; IBM, Intel, GlobalFoundries, Samsung and TSMC.
It is not yet clear that these companies will want to support 450-mm wafer engineering at two sites. If they do not this could have a damaging effect on the future of the semiconductor industry in Europe, which is relatively strong in semiconductor equipment and lithography technology.
"The continuous growth of IMEC into a high-tech knowledge pole has only been possible thanks to the support of the Flemish Government. We are therefore very thankful for the extra support of the Flemish Government for our 450-mm clean room initiative," said Luc Van den hove, CEO of IMEC, in a statement.
IMEC also announced that under a collaboration with KLA-Tencor, a Surfscan SP3 450 450-mm wafer capable wafer defect inspection system will be installed at IMEC.
Really great News! We need more gvt support! Maybe we will see a scenario like we saw at SC300 (first 300mm fab in the world; JV between Infineon and Motorola). However, this may all there will be: nothing more but R&D or pilot in Europe. Just can't see 450mm volume in Europe. Way too expensive there even with gvt support.