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VLSI: 450mm has a long way to go

Posted: 01 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:450mm fab? silicon wafer? manufacturing?

Countering some reports, the move to 450mm fabs is still unlikely for the foreseeable future due to costs, according to VLSI Research Inc.

Large chip vendors such as Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. are clamoring for a migration 450mm wafers, which would enable them to build more chips per die and increase profits. These companies hope to build prototype 450mm fabs by 2012.

The probability that the semiconductor industry will one day use 450mm silicon wafers in manufacturing has increased significantly, though the chance of achieving volume production by the original target date of 2012 is remote, according to a new report by analysts at Semico Research Corp.

But now, even some equipment suppliersmany of which have resisted the move to 450mmare starting to come around, according to Semico.

Others have another viewpoint. "450mm is a hot topic all of a sudden. It's a good sign that the downturn's really over whenever a new wafer size gets industry attention," said G. Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research, in a report.

"While many are focused on when, I think the bigger issue is how to get the technology to the next level. At a minimum, that is going to take a commitment of at least $1 billion to a consortium to take the technology to the next level: early production prototype tool sets," he said.

"I don't see any signs of that happening. In the downturn the money was not there due to the 'American Financial Crisis.' Now it's not there because all available money is going into expanding current capacity," he said.

"Without such an investment and commitment, 450mm will remain stalled in the wafer handing and standardization phase. We need to start proving out processes, and that will take real tools," he added.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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