Tools manufacturers unenthusiastic about 450mm

Top tools makers Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron are unenthusiastic about the possible transition to 450mm, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Applied corporate vp Kirk Hassrjian told the WSJ that it would be difficult to convince Applied’s shareholders that the investment for 450mm is justified.

Tokyo Electron vp Akihisa Sekiguchi said the chip makers had given little guidance on the 300mm transition with the result that early machines didn’t work well and needed costly modification.

Whereas 75 companies built 200mm fabs, only 25 built 300mm fabs and Hasserjian reckons only “5 or maybe 6” companies will build 450mm fabs.

At yesterday’s IFS 2012, Future Horizons CTO Mike Bryant said that 450mm fabs will cost $10bn and that the companies which build them are, in order of building: Intel, TSMC, Samsung (all by 2021) followed by Globalfoundries, Toshiba, Hynix, Micron, UMC, ST/Infineon, SMIC, Renesas (assuming a new management team), Texas Instruments.

The gap between the expectations of Intel and TSMC and the expectations of the tools makers is dramatic. TSMC says it will sart using 450mm wafers in 2013-14, Intel says it will start in 2015-16 but key lithographic supplier ASML says it doesn’t expect 450mm production until 2018 and says the earliest it could supply a 450mm tool would be 2016. Although Intel’s recent investment of $4bn in ASML might speed that up.

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