LONDON A transition to manufacturing on table-top sized 450-mm diameter wafers is an important enabler for cost reduction, according to Jack Sun, chief technology officer of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., speaking at the International Electronics Forum, held in Dresden, Germany last week.
Unfortunately, despite saying that he expected 450-mm production to begin by the middle of the decade, Sun could shed no light on how the industry was going to fund what some observers have said could be a $20 billion bill.
"I do believe it is going to happen. No single company can afford it. It is an ecosystem issue; equipment makers, device makers, customers, governments all have to pitch in," Sun said. "Before the [economic] crisis we thought it would happen in 2012," said Sun. "Now that's been pushed a couple of years out. We have to pick up the pace."
Unfortunately very few other chip makers and almost none of the chipmaking equipment vendors feel much inclined to help. The only companies expressing any interest in 450-mm wafer processing besides TSMC are Intel and Samsung.
Luc van den Hove, president and CEO of IMEC, said that expansion of the clean rooms at the European research institute could be used to aid progress towards 450-mm wafer production. "The expansion could be used for some early experiments but we are not going to set up a full 450-mm production line. I don't see that happening in the next couple of years."
Van den Hove stressed that the main reason for expansion was to accept a second preproduction extreme ultraviolet lithography tool. IMEC's primary interest was in semiconductor process and device research and much of that could be done on 300-mm diameter wafers regardless of the size of wafer used in commercial production.
Related links and articles:
SEMI publishes standard for 450-mm wafers
IMEC forms 'more-than-CMOS' alliance with TSMC
TSMC's Chang: Industry needs to collaborate