TSMC says it intends to start trial production on 450mm wafers in 2013-14 and to be in volume production in 2015-16.
Intel says it will be getting first generation 450mm tools in 2015 and will start making ICs on it. In 2016/2017 second generation 2 tools will be delivering real productivity and Intel will then start upgrading its existing fabs.”
But, before this week’s announcement of the Intel investment in ASML, ASML’s position on 450mm tool development was that 450mm manufacturing will not be introduced until 2018 “or thereabouts”.
ASML’s 2018 is rather significantly later than TSMC’s 2013-14 and Intel’s 2015-16.
Not for the first time, there is a significant miss-match between the aspirations of the chip-makers and the timetables of the tools-makers.
As Samsung and TSMC ponder on whether to join in the investment in ASML, or throw their weight behind alternative lithographic tool-maker Nikon, the world can see the unfolding of the Intel master-plan for world domination.
Always the most pushy proponent for 450mm, Intel can see itself becoming undisputed leader in process technology – both for wafer size and feature size.
If it can achieve that, then the most powerful electronics manufacturers in the world will have no choice but to go to Intel for foundry, Intel’s microprocessors will be the only option for every leading performance product from smartphones to servers and Intel will transform from being dominant chip-maker to owning the industry.
Is that a good thing?
I don’t think so.