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TSMC details 450mm fab plans

Posted: 04 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:450mm fabs? 14nm FinFET? fab tool?

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd (TSMC) used the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference in San Jose, California to explain in detail its plans to build a 450mm fab.

The silicon foundry giant hopes to process 14nm FinFET devices in full production on 450mm wafers by 2015 or 2016, said Shang-Yi Chiang, senior vice president of R&D at TSMC.

As reported, Intel, Samsung and TSMC are pushing hard for 450mm fabs. Intel has already announced two "450mm ready" fabs. The fab tool vendors are warming up to 450mm development, but most are still behind schedule with the technology. Some believe that 450mm will cause confusion in the supply chain.

Recently, TSMC said it plans to install its first 450mm line in Taiwan by 2013 to 2014. It will process wafers at the 20nm node on 450mm substrates. Many of the details were not disclosed when TSMC made that initial announcement.

In an interview at SPIE after his keynote, Chiang elaborated on those plans. Initially, TSMC hopes to install a 450mm pilot line in Fab 12 in Hsinchu, Taiwan. The line will process wafers at the 20nm node. It hopes to get the pilot line up and running by 2013 to 2014.

Then, TSMC plans to bring up its first 450mm production fab in Taichung, Taiwan, which will process devices at the 14nm node. The Taichung plant is called Fab 15.

At 14nm, TSMC plans to make a switch in transistor structures. At the 20nm node and above, TSMC will continue to use traditional planar transistors based on bulk CMOS. At 14nm, the company plans to make the switch from bulk CMOS to FinFET structures, he said.

So, the company will produce 14nm FinFETs in production in Fab 15. Production is slated for 2015 to 2016.

The TSMC technologist said 450mm wafers enable a 2.25- to 2.40-fold productivity gain over 300mm wafers. But he acknowledged there are several challenges with 450mm, namely to get the equipment vendors on board.

At one time, most fab tool vendors were reluctant to invest in 450mm. Many believe it is too expensive and there is little or no return-on-investment.

Now, fab tool vendors are warming up to the idea for several reasons. First, Sematech, which is leading the charge in 450mm, is providing some funding for fab tool vendors in 450mm. Second, the world's largest chipmakers are pushing hard for 450mm and fab tool vendors don't want to lose out on some business.

Chiang in a question-and-answer session said that "the government would pay for half of the cost" of 450mm tool R&D, but he did not elaborate.

"We see a bit more willingness on the part of equipment makers" to embrace 450mm, said C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in a recent report. "We then think by 2016-2018, we will see adoption of 450mm."

Lam Research Corp. is reportedly beginning to invest in 450mm. Other fab tool vendors are also quietly developing tools, but 450mm won't be cheap.

- Mark LaPedus
??EE Times





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