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Will 450-mm fabs ever happen?

Posted: 16 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:450-mm fabs  IC manufacturing  fab tools 

At the Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) here, the 450-mm fab debate started again.

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.

In a presentation at ISS, Tom St. Dennis, senior vice president and general manager of the Silicon Systems Group at Applied Materials Inc., said that the industry simply cannot afford to devise 450-mm fab tools, especially during the current downturn.

St. Dennis believes that 450-mm fabs could appear over time, but there should be ''no industry-wide initiative (for 450-mm fabs) in the next ten years.''

Applied itself is not developing 450-mm tools right now, but the fab-tool giant has been ''engaged'' and talking with various entities like Sematech and Intel in the arena, he added.

In a separate presentation, Steve Johnston, director of supplier technology integration for the Technology Manufacturing and Engineering Group at Intel Corp., expressed interest in having a prototype 450-mm fab by 2012.

This, of course, depends on three factors: critical mass of customer interest, readiness, and return-on-investment, he said.

Bill McClean, president of chip market research firm IC Insights Inc., urged the industry to develop 450-mm technologies sooner than later. Delays in moving to 450-mm fabs ''will delay the next big cost reduction phase for IC manufacturing,'' he said.

-Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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