The company which, more than anyone else, has pushed for 450mm, is Intel, and Intel recently announced a 2012 capex budget of $12.5 billion.
That’s about half the estimated cost of the 450mm transition.
The EU is thinking of backing 450mm development, and Future Horizons has done a report for the EU on whether this is a worthwhile thing to do.
But if Intel will be the main beneficiary of 450mm, and some would say Intel – with revenues of $50 billion in a $300 billion industry – is too big and too powerful already, is it not in the best interests of the rest of the semiconductor industry to oppose 450mm development and refuse to have anything to do with it?
Last week I put this question to the CEO of Future Horizons, Malcolm Penn.
“Yes, possibly,” was Penn’s reply.
The argument in favour of backing 450mm with taxpayers’ money is that it will keep the European tool-makers competitive.
You have to balance that argument against Intel’s overweening position as the Colossus of the semiconductor industry.
Especially when Intel has been found guilty of anti-competitive conduct leading to higher consumer prices by competition authorities in Korea, the EU, the USA and Japan.
So should the consumer/taxpayer subsidise a project which will help a large company screw them?