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450-nm Fabs Status

 

1.IEDM: 450-mm fabs to run $10B; scaling to slow / EETimes.com

2.450-mm fabs may appear in 2017/ EETimes.com

3.Industry agrees on first 450-mm wafer standard / EETimes.com

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1. IEDM: 450-mm fabs to run $10B; scaling to slow




 
SAN FRANCISCO -- Panelists agreed to disagree about the future of fabs, including the shift towards 450-mm plants, which could cost a staggering $10 billion if or when these giant facilities get built.

At this week's International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) here, the panelists also warned that Moore's Law could slow down after the 22-nm node as device physics is nearing the wall.

''Is the technology node progression slowing down? Not yet, but it soon will be,'' said Craig Sander, vice president of process R&D at Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and the company's foundry spin-off, dubbed The Foundry Co.. At 22-nm, ''we are hitting the physical limits (of scaling). After that, things will slow down.''

The IEDM panel topic centered around ''The Future of Fabs.'' As expected, 450-mm fabs were among the topics at the panel. As reported, Intel, TSMC and Samsung are separately pushing for the advent of 450-mm ''prototype'' fabs by 2012. Some believe that 450-mm fabs will not appear for another decade. Others believe 450-mm fabs will never happen, saying the R&D costs are too expensive.

During the panel, John Lin, director of the manufacturing technology center at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), provided one of the first glimpses of the cost structure for a 450-mm fab.

In a presentation, Lin said a 450-mm fab could cost over $10 billion. In comparison, a leading-edge 300-mm fab for the 45-nm node runs about $4 billion.

To make 450-mm fabs a reality, it ''requires industry collaboration'' between chip and equipment makers, said Devadas Pillai, Intel fellow and director of operational decision support technology in the Logic Technology Development group at the chip giant.

The representatives from TSMC and Intel declined to comment when 450-mm fabs would appear. But not surprisingly, the fab-tool community and others on the panel were lukewarm about 450-mm.

Masayuki Tomoyasu, senior vice president and chief engineer at Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL), said the cost and risk are too high for 450-mm fabs. Many in the industry propose the so-called 300mm Prime program, which aims to boost efficiency in current 300-mm fabs.

Bill Arnold, chief scientist for ASML Holding NV, said overall throughput could take a hit within 450-mm fabs. On a slide, he demonstrated that lithography throughout would be half or less for 450-mm, as compared to current tools running in today's 300-mm fabs.

There is another huge problem: It is still unclear where the R&D dollars will come from to develop 450-mm tools, said Hans Stork, chief technology officer at Applied Materials Inc.

''450-mm will increase development costs,'' said AMD's Sander. In fact, overall process development costs are increasing 1.4 times per node, leaving fewer and fewer players that can afford to build fabs, Sander said.

On a positive note, ''innovation will not slow down,'' he said.

Innovation will be required if IC scaling slows. The panelist listed various technologies that could be deployed in the event of a slowdown in scaling. Those include 3D-based thru-silicon vias (TSVs), carbon nanotubes, FinFETs and related structures. On the memory side, there are 4-bit-per-cell NAND, cross-point memories, among others.


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2. 450-mm fabs may appear in 2017


 

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Next-generation 450-mm fabs could become a reality, but not in the timeframe that some had hoped.

As reported, Intel, TSMC and Samsung are separately pushing for the advent of 450-mm fabs by 2012 or so. Some believe 450-mm fabs will never happen, saying the R&D costs are too expensive.

If or when 450-mm appears, the first production fabs could emerge at the 8- or 5-nm nodes, somewhere between the 2017 to 2019 timeframe, said Dean Freeman, an analyst with Gartner Inc. And in total, it could cost a staggering $20-to-$40 billion to bring the next-generation wafer size to the market, Freeman said.

The price for a 450-mm toolset: $100 million!

But will 450-mm become a reality? Right now, it's a toss-up and it doesn't make sense, given the current economy. 450-mm will become a reality when the economics dictate the need for a new wafer size or when chip scaling ends, Freeman said.

If it does happen, Freeman outlined a possible timeline for 450-mm fabs:

2009: Constructive dialogue between tool and chip makers.

2010: Silicon wafer prototypes to determine how technology behaves.

2012-2013: Equipment prototypes.

2014-2016: Equipment ready for pilot lines.

2017-2019: Production would start at 8- or 5-nm node.

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3. Industry agrees on first 450-mm wafer standard

 

AUSTIN, Texas -- Hoping to accelerate the development of 450-mm fabs, International Sematech and others have formulated a preliminary standard for 450-mm silicon wafers.

But the 450-mm era could get delayed amid the IC downturn and current economic crisis.

Meanwhile, after several competing proposals, Sematech, SEMI and the IC industry have settled upon a wafer thickness standard of 925-micron, plus or minus 25-micron, for the so-called ''mechanical standard'' for 450-mm silicon wafers. The ''mechanical standard'' is an early and preliminary standard. In comparison, a 300-mm wafer has an overall thickness of 775-micron.

A standard is key for 450-mm wafers. This will enable the development of the initial wafer handling and other systems for 450-mm fabs, said Michael Goldstein, materials principal engineer at Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.), one of the driving forces behind the next-generation wafer size. Intel is one of the members of Sematech (Albany, N.Y.), which is driving the 450-mm movement.

Then, in November, the industry will take the next step. It will vote upon a ''test wafer thickness'' standard for 450-mm wafers, but 925-micron appears to be the target. ''We do not expect a big change'' from the 925-micron standard in the next proposal, he said.

Then, over time, the industry must decide upon the ''production wafer thickness'' for 450-mm substrates. That could happen in 2010 or 2011.

To jumpstart the 450-mm era, Sematech last year announced a plan to devise a "factory integration test bed" facility for the development of 450-mm fab tools.

The proposed facility would help enable chip-equipment makers to develop the initial fab-automation gear, such as carriers, load ports, modules and other items.

The proposed pitch specification for 450-mm tools is 10-mm. But this week, Sematech will demonstrate a pitch specification of 9.2-mm and a wafer deflective sag value of 0.353. In comparison, Sematech last year demonstrated a pitch specification of 9.4-mm and a wafer sag value of 0.613.

A 450-mm wafer weights 330 grams, which can cause the substrate to bend or sag on a wafer handling system. The key is to make the substrates and handling systems robust enough to offset the sagging effect.

Still to be seen, however, is when 450-mm fabs will appear. As reported, Intel, TSMC and Samsung are separately pushing for the advent of 450-mm ''prototype'' fabs by 2012 or so. Some believe 450-mm fabs will never happen, saying the R&D costs are too expensive.

If or when 450-mm appears, the first production fabs could emerge at the 8- or 5-nm nodes, somewhere between the 2017 to 2019 timeframe, said Dean Freeman, an analyst with Gartner Inc., at a recent event. And in total, it could cost a staggering $20-to-$40 billion to bring the next-generation wafer size to the market, Freeman said.

Leading the 450-mm charge is chip-making consortium Sematech. Recently, Sematech unveiled two next-generation fab programs: 300mmPrime and the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative's ISMI 450mm effort.

There is widespread support among the fab-tool community for 300mmPrime, which looks to boost the efficiency of existing 300-mm fabs, thereby pushing out the need for 450-mm plants.

The newer, more controversial ISMI 450mm program calls for some chip makers to make a more direct transition from 300-mm to the larger 450-mm wafer size.

Many fab-tool vendors are reluctant to endorse the next-generation wafer size or devise 450-mm tools, saying that it is simply too expensive. Many vendors claim that 300-mm fabs are suitable for most applications and the real goal for the industry is to improve the productivity of current plants.

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