LONDON – The European Commission has announced four pilot line projects covering technologies from LEDs to 450-mm diameter wafers that it intends to support in addition to the previously announced project on fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (see Europe backs FDSOI fabs).
The five chip manufacturing pilot line projects are part of the Europe Electronics strategy announced on May 23 (see Europe launches $12 billion chip support campaign). The five projects involve 128 companies drawn from 20 countries.
The European Commission, the administrative arm of the European Union of 27 member states, said it will provide 100 million euro (about $130 million) towards a total funding of over 700 million euro (more than $900 million) to support these five pilot lines. The total funding includes contributions from member states and industry and most of the projects run from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2015.
The pilot lines are:
The AGATE pilot line. This project, led by wafer maker Soitec SA (Bernin, France) aims at generating affordable, gallium nitride on silicon substrates for production of power semiconductors and light emitting diodes. The ten-partner project is set to run until December 2015.
The E450EDL pilot line. The E450EDL pilot line project based at IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) and ASML Holding (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) is set to host 43 partners from 11 countries to validate equipment, materials and first processing sequences for 450-mm diameter wafers, with support until September 2016.
The EPPL pilot line. This supports work on thinned wafers for power components already being undertaken by Infineon Technologies AG in Villach, Austria and Dresden, Germany. The EPPL pilot line project will support 31 partner companies until March 2016.
The Lab4MEMS pilot line. The main industrial pilot line is split between two STMicroelectronic sites: a front end in Agrate and a backend in Malta supported by R&D centers and small enterprises and research labs distributed across nine countries. The project started in January 2013 and is set to run for 30 months.
The Places2Be pilot line. This is a three-year project with a budget of 360 million euro (about $465 million) set up in Europe to support the industrialization of the FDSOI manufacturing process. The project, called Places2Be, is led by FDSOI pioneer STMicroelectronics NV and will support pilot lines to run process at ST's wafer fab at Crolles, France and at Globalfoundries' Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany. The aim of the 23 partners is to bring the technology to industrial scale by solving challenges such as manufacturing yield and application development.
"We do not have any time to waste. These projects will make a vital contribution to implementing our electronics strategy. And by end 2013 I want to see the industry's plan to achieve a doubling of chip production to around 20 percent of global production," said European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes, in a statement.
To this end, Kroes is holding a meeting today (May 29) with ministers from regional and national governments, CEOs from major European semiconductor manufacturers, and world-leading researchers to discuss the implementation of the strategy.
Related links and articles:
new Electronics Strategy for Europe
5 pilot lines in the Digital Agenda
Europe launches $12 billion chip support campaign
Europe backs FDSOI fabs
ST starts pilot line for advanced MEMS