LONDON – Foundry chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. now foresees the start of volume production of ICs on 450-mm diameter wafers in 2018, according to local reports that reference J.K.Wang, TSMC's vice president for operations speaking ahead of the Semicon Taiwan exhibition and conference. The reports said that TSMC believes pilot lines could be running in 2016 or 2017.
TSMC had said early in 2011 that it was working to have a pilot line running 20-nm silicon on 450-mm wafers in 2013-2014 and the first dedicated 450-mm wafer fab in 2015-2016.
Wang said TSMC has completed its planning for 450-mm wafer production and that it would begin volume production on the large wafers in 2018.
Leading chip makers Intel, TSMC and Samsung have each invested in leading lithography equipment maker ASML Holding NV to try and speed up the transition to 450-mm wafers and to have a 450-mm wafer capable extreme ultra-violet lithography machine ready as soon as possible.
Though several development programs are underway, including the G450C program, it is uncertain when all of the necessary tools will be in place to support 450-mm wafers. Wang reportedly said TSMC would complete specification setting for 450-mm tools in 2014 or 2015 and set up pilot lines in 2016 or 2017 prior to volume in 2018.
The Taiwan Economic News reported that Burn Lin, TSMC's vice president of R&D, speaking at the same press conference ahead of Semicon Taiwan, said that TSMC will begin volume production of FinFET transistors at the 20-nm process node and is on the track to deploy a full FinFET process at the 16-nm node. Lin reportedly added that TSMC will use immersion lithography for 16-nm and 10-nm production but that multi e-beam lithography is a candidate for a 10-nm FinFET process.