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450mm Progressing

By Pete Singer

One of the highlights of SEMI’s Industry Strategy Symposium held in January in Half Moon Bay, California was the first public presentation of a fully patterned 450mm silicon wafer.
Intel’s Robert E. Bruck, corporate vice president and general manager of Technology Manufacturing Engineering asked Mario Abravanel, Intel 450mm Equipment Program Manager, to join him on stage. Abravanel appeared from behind the stage, carrying the wafer with gloved hands. “It’s real,” Bruck said, noting that the wafer was patterned with 26nm features using nano imprint lithography. Bruck singled out wafer-supplier SUMCO, Dai Nippon Printing for partnering in the mask area, and Molecular Imprints for imprint technology. “It shows that a true partnership can move this thing forward,” he said. Bruck said that Intel will be producing thousands of 450mm wafers in the next few quarters for their equipment partners to use in their own equipment development.
Bruck, during his presentation, noted that fewer companies are capable of delivering Moore’s Law — and fewer capable of 450mm production. He showed that about 20 semiconductor companies have the $3-5 billion revenue “threshold” (measured in 2011 dollars) to build a 200mm fab. Only nine have revenue, in the $9-12 billion range, which is the threshold for a 300mm fab (those being Intel, Samsung, TSMC, Toshiba, TI, Renesas, ST Micro, Qualcomm and Hynix). “In 300mm configurations, there’s a much smaller group that can afford a reasonable capital cost as a percentage of revenue,” Bruck said. “If you extend this 300mm model out a few more years, anticipating the next few nodes that come, the list of participants who can afford to build these factories gets even smaller. Somewhere beyond 2015 will be a 450 number which suggests even further concentration.”
The exact timing of 450mm production was explored at ISS in a panel session hosted by Alix Partners. Chris Danely, Managing Director, Semiconductor Equity Research, JP Morgan, said: “From the Wall Street perspective, the triumvirate of Intel, Samsung and TSMC is telling us 2017. 2018 is when it starts to ramp.”

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