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Fab tool vendors on 450mm move: 'Flawed and misguided'

Posted: 31 Oct 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC equipment manufacturers? 450mm fab?

IC equipment companies have raised concerns about shifting toward 450mm fabs. In a closed-door meeting of the Joint Productivity Working Group of the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) at a Sematech event, IC equipment companies expressed new concerns about the chip consortium's controversial 450mm fab program. Fab tool vendors called the effort flawed and misguided, and argued that moving to the next-generation wafer size would yield little or no cost benefit.

Sematech claims the IC industry could realize a 30 percent reduction in costs per wafer over time by migrating from 300mm to 450mm fabs. But Sematech's assumptions about the "cost savings are dubious," said Bob Johnson, an analyst with Gartner Inc.

Iddo Hadar, chief technology officer for the foundation engineering group at Applied Materials Inc., said there is a chance that 450mm fabs will appear in the distant future, but he likened Sematech's aggressive migration path to a runaway train that's "heading toward the wall." Hadar made the comment during an interview after last week's SEMI working group meeting. The parties present for the discussions are said to have included a dozen or so leading fab tool vendors, among them Applied, Axcelis, ASML, KLA-Tencor and Hitachi. Advanced Micro Devices, Sematech and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) were also present; Intel reportedly was not.

Intel has long been advocating the need to build 450mm fabs by around 2012 if the industry is to sustain Moore's Law. Samsung, TSMC and Toshiba also appear to be 450mm proponents.

But fab tool vendors have balked at the prospect of developing the machines to handle the next-generation wafers, citing prohibitive R&D costs. That has sparked tensions between the equipment vendors and their customers.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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