MUNICH -- The quest for expanding semiconductor manufacturing to 450mm wafers in Europe has taken large chip companies by storm and placed them squarely in the eye of it.
At the Industry Strategy Symposium Europe 2012 chip players reasoned with each other of the need to take up the challenges for taking the next steps of IC production in Europe despite the economic and cultural challenges posed by such a quest.
Michael Hummel, Texas Instruments Head of European Operations, gave his perspective on making every wafer size dimension count: “I worry that in our quest to tackle 450mm manufacturing we leave behind the the support for the current successful product 200mm product lines.”
TI’s average semiconductor manufacturing mix of its current embedded and analog chip bucket involves approximately 70 percent of internal manufacturing. Experience in volume production in its two 200mm plants in Freising, Germany and Greenock, Scotland highlight Europe’s competitive manufacturing gaps. “We have had to deal with high labor costs and lack of work flexibility due to regional labor regulations and higher European energy cost and associated taxes and fees,” said Hummel.
TI has been in Europe for some 40 years. “Catering steadily to Europe’s way ofdoing things we established work time accounts and worked out contract labor regulations for innovative ways to deal with weekly and annual working hours to form an engineering eco-system that minimizes disruptions.”
Also, Europe’s environmental legal framework provided TI with an early focus on sustainability, which today places the company in a leadership position and provides a competitive edge for future expansion in Europe.
Hummel listed on what is needed for TI to sustain a semiconductor fab in Europe: an engineering recruit pipeline; 200mm equipment and spares; competitive electricity cost; contract labor laws that grow their eco-system; and a political and economic stability, "which I cherish every time I return from other regions in the world."
Rutger Wijburg, vice president and general manager, at GlobalFoundries Fab 1 in Dresden called for bridging the „Valley of Death“ — the chasm between real good European research and real marketable chip products. “We need to endorse the European Union’s program of a unified plan through its Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) program, such as nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics including semiconductors, advanced materials, biotechnology and photonics."
“These technologies are needed to restructure industrial processes that will modernize the European Union industry as a whole,” said Gabriel M. Crean, VP for Technology at CEA, in the ISS Europe keynote. Crean has acted as a consultant for European Governments and the European Union (EU) Research Directorate.
"The 450mm initiative, EEMI450, established in 2009 has currently more than 45 companies and institutes," said Bas van Nooten, Director European Cooperative Programs, ASM International, in a statement. van Nooten will share his take on a new EEMI450 White Paper presented to the European Commission earlier in February at the Tuesday Technology session at ISS Europe 2012.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.