LONDON – A European public-private partnership formed to coordinate research in nanoelectronics has proposed projects for the creation of three pilot fabs, including one for 450-mm diameter wafers. The ENIAC joint undertaking is seeking more than 800 million euro (about $1 billion) towards projects for 2012, the majority of which would be for the pilot line project proposals, according to ENIAC executive director Andreas Wild.
The ENIAC joint undertaking is a major organization set up in 2008, which brings together national funding bodies, the European Commission, and the leading companies that conduct R&D in Europe. ENIAC stands for European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council.
The pilot line proposals are part of a political agenda that wants to support and maintain leading-edge chip manufacturing in Europe as a key enabling technology for systems manufacturing, service provision and wealth creation.
The proposals include a 200-mm pilot line aimed supporting industry in MEMS sensors and power applications; a 300-mm pilot line to support leading-edge manufacturing of memories and processors; and a 450-mm pilot line intended to support the development of advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment and materials. Wild presented some details of the proposals to the two-day European Nanoelectronics Forum which opened in Munich, Germany on Tuesday Nov. 20.
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Europe wants to keep making chips on wafer sizes from 200-mm to 450-mm in diameter. Source: ENIAC
Wild told EE Times
that the projects are subject to negotiations that are due to close by the end of November. It is not yet clear where the pilot lines would be located or when they would be created or exactly what would be produced there and for whose benefit. Wild said more details should become available after negotitations have concluded.
It may not be necessary to create such pilot lines from the ground up as existing research institutes across Europe may seek to have existing facilities adopted as the nominated European pilot line and to receive financial support. Research institute IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) already has a 200-mm pilot line that is being used to produce MEMS components on a mixed R&D and commercial basis and a 300-mm pilot line that is being prepared to receive 450-mm wafer processing equipment when it becomes available.
However, it is important to ENIAC that broad involvement is included in the pilot lines and it wants to initiate the creation of additional facilities. On Nov. 14 the body issued a call for expressions of interest from parties to coordinate such pilot lines with the condition that they should be executed by an industrial consortium with at least three members from different countries in the European Union. A second stipulation was that the expression of interest should include a deployment plan for a full-scale European manufacturing site.
Malcolm Penn, CEO of technology and market analysis company Future
Horizons Ltd. and an advocate of manufacturing for maintaining wealth generation proposed the creation of joint-venture owned commercial 450-mm wafer fab in Europe in a report prepared for the European Commission in 2011.
Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, who has asked whether it is time to create an "Airbus of chips" conglomerate is due to speak to the European Nanoelectronics Forum late on Wednesday (Nov. 21).
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