Wafer Cost Show-Stopper

Dismaying the IEF2013 meeting in Dublin this morning was a foil put up by TSMC senior director for R&D, Yee-Chaung See, that showed a steeply rising wafer cost after the 28nm node.So steep was the anticipated cost curve that the prospective cost of a 10nm wafer appeared to be about 4x the cost of a 28nm wafer.

Asked if this was a show-stopper for the industry, Yee-Chuang replied: “We need msny innovations to bring the cost down.”

The two most important innovations to achieve this are 450mm and EUV.

“Progress towards 250W source power EUV must not slow down,” said Yee-Chuang, adding that he expected to see it by 2015.

However only around 10W is currently being achieved, although Gigaphoton of Japan recently announced a 15W power source.

On the spreading TSMC ecosystem, Yee-Chuang noted that the TSMC ‘grand Alliance’ now spends a cumulative $12 billion on R&D – more than any IDM. Itnel spends abot $10 billion a year on R&D.

Another sign of the growing power of the TSMC ecosystem is that the company currently employs “close to” 1,000 design engineers, said Yee-Chuang.

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