Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
Could 450mm Cost $40 Billion?
Could 450mm really cost $40 billion? That is what CEA-LETI senior advisor Michel Brillouet, is saying. SEMI’s estimate is $25-40 billion.
Much of the investment will be centred at the Global 450 Consortium (G450C).
Here’s the problem for European equipment and materials suppliers – unlike current 300mm process development which occurs at multiple locations around the globe – near-term 450 development seems likely to be exclusively conducted at the G450C site in New York.
Tom Jefferson, 450 programme manager at Sematech says that, by mid-2013 to early 2014, a complete 450mm production line will be established at Albany containing 50 different tool types.
Here’s where things get tricky. The objective of the pilot line, with its 50 tool-types some from multiple suppliers, will be to develop data to support the purchase of production-line tools. It is unlikely, says Jefferson, that non-participants in G450C will be favourably considered for 450 production lines.
Participants will benefit from access to patterned and non-patterned wafers, shared metrology and Multi Application Carriers (MACs), shared consortium staff resources, data sharing, and “financially leveraged business partnerships” with consortium partners.
Suppliers who do not participate in the programme will be lower on the priority for access to test wafers. The impression left was that not participating in the program will lower the probability of participation in production line rollouts by consortium partners.
“Some equipment suppliers may choose to stay off 450mm and focus on specialty development on 300mm platforms, but the 8nm node is likely to be the 450mm equivalent of 65nm’s ’300mm only’ moment,” says SEMI, adding “furthermore, the ‘Post CMOS’ era will likely be exclusively on 450mm wafers.”
Once 450mm is developed, spare capacity in 300mm will emerge, encouraging a migration from 200mm production, impacting the viability and competitiveness of both 200mm and 300mm fabs, says SEMI. In 15-20 years, even low volume, mature technologies in MEMS, power and analogue could migrate to 450mm fabs.
CEA-LETI’s Brillouet says the EC’s options are: help develop 450 and forget all More-than-Moore projects; forget 450 and concentrate on other process technologies such as 3D, EUV, etc, and support R&D by equipment and material suppliers without a European production or pilot development lab.
How much of the headline $4.4 billion investment in 450mm at Albany represents already-committed IBM money for other (non-450) advanced chip design and technology development is not known.Tags: consortium partners, consortium staff, globe, line tools, wafers