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What‚??s an aeroplane without a pilot?

06 May 2008 | By Mark Osborne | Editor's Blog

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Though it's bound to get a lot of coverage, the news that Intel, Samsung and TSMC all want to see a 450mm pilot line in operation by 2012 shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.

The fact that the press statement said absolutely zilch about how this was going to be achieved shouldn’t go unnoticed nor should the fact that zilch was said about how it would obtain the process tools and automation systems to mesh this altogether.

It is well known that without the support of the equipment suppliers the pilot line project will remain a pipe-dream. As yet, no equipment supplier has endorsed the next wafer migration, after two years of campaigning by ISMI and Intel.

The latest news doesn’t seem to indicate any change in sentiment from either side, so surely time is seriously running out for the 2012 milestone?

At last year's ISMI Conference, one supplier I talked to about the ongoing developments summed up the problem by saying to me that ‘though an aeroplane needs a pilot to make it fly, it needs passengers (equipment suppliers) to pay for the flight. Until that happens, it remains grounded.'

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