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Intel, Samsung and TSMC agree timing of 450mm pilot line

06 May 2008 | By Mark Osborne | News > Fab Management

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MEMCIntel Corporation, Samsung Electronics and TSMC have come out in unison regarding their wish to have the infrastructure in place for a 450mm pilot line to be established sometime in 2012. This is the first time the muted supporters of the migration to the larger wafer size have banded together publicly to promote their intentions. The companies said in a joint statement that they would continue to work closely with International Sematech (ISMI), coordinator of the project.

"There is a long history of innovation and problem solving in our industry that has delivered wafer transitions resulting in lower costs per area of silicon processed and overall industry growth." said Bob Bruck, Vice President and General Manager, Technology Manufacturing Engineering in Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group. "We, along with Samsung and TSMC, agree that the transition to 450mm wafers will follow the same pattern of delivering increased value to our customers."

Intel has been at the forefront of the move to the larger wafer size, ever since analysis undertaken at ISMI highlighted that productivity and cost reduction programs possible with 300mm wafers would not provide the cost savings required to continue progressive semiconductor device price declines, thus potentially slowing down the growth of the industry overall.

"The transition to 450mm wafers will benefit the entire ecosystem of the IC industry, and Intel, Samsung, TSMC will work together with suppliers and other semiconductor manufacturers to actively develop 450mm capability," said Cheong-Woo Byun, Senior Vice President, Memory Manufacturing Operation Center, Samsung Electronics.

Samsung was said  to be in support of the wafer size transition as a way to reduce costs as well as to support a further consolidation in the memory market as smaller manufacturers would struggle to afford the wafer size transition.

"Increasing cost due to the complexity of advanced technology is a concern for the future," said Mark Liu, TSMC's Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology Business. "Intel, Samsung, and TSMC believe the transition to 450mm wafers is a potential solution to maintain a reasonable cost structure for the industry."

As the largest pure-play foundry - significantly larger than any of its rivals, TSMC was also widely said to be in support of the migration as it would benefit from more IDMs deciding not to internally move from 300mm wafers to 450mm and therefore use foundries such as TSMC instead.

The companies did not explain whether they would all invest in a single pilot line or pursue separate agendas or what the costs are expected to be.

Currently, no major equipment or materials company has publicly announced support for the wafer size transition, even after two years of lobbying from ISMI and Intel.

The companies said in the statement that:

‘Given the complexity of integrating all of the components for a transition of this size, the companies recognize that consistent evaluation of the target timeline will be critical to ensure industry-wide readiness.’


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