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450mm fab spins new round of debate

Posted: 19 Jan 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:450mm fab? R&D? fab tool? manufacturing IC?

The Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) witnessed the next round of the 450mm fab debate.

As reported, Intel Corp., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd and Samsung Electronics are separately pushing for the advent of 450mm "prototype" fabs by 2012. Some believe that 450mm fabs will not appear for another decade. Others believe 450mm fabs will never happen, saying the R&D costs are too expensive.

In a presentation at ISS, Tom St. Dennis, senior VP and general manager of the silicon systems group at Applied Materials Inc., said that the industry simply cannot afford to devise 450mm fab tools, especially during the current downturn.

St. Dennis believes that 450mm fabs could appear over time, but there should be "no industry-wide initiative (for 450mm fabs) in the next ten years."

Applied itself is not developing 450mm tools right now, but the fab-tool giant has been "engaged" and talking with various entities like Sematech and Intel in the arena, he added.

In a separate presentation, Steve Johnston, director of supplier technology integration for the technology manufacturing and engineering group at Intel Corp., expressed interest in having a prototype 450mm fab by 2012.

This, of course, depends on three factors: critical mass of customer interest, readiness, and return-on-investment, he said.

Bill McClean, president of chip market research firm IC Insights Inc., urged the industry to develop 450mm technologies sooner than later. Delays in moving to 450mm fabs "will delay the next big cost reduction phase for IC manufacturing," he said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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