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Date: 12-09-13

450 mm is the next path to profit for top semiconductor players

The key factor of success for large scale semiconductor manufacturers around the world is volume manufacturing of integrated circuits at lesser and lesser cost. The cost is reduced by offering more number of transistors for the same price, and offering IC chip at lesser price by making more number of chips in single process. At the moment now industry is on the verge of producing 14/16nm chips using 300 wafers. To build one such fab, an investment of more than US dollar 5 billion is required. The chips made by such fabs need to be sold in billions for the investor to make money. So they had to focus on global mass market.

For semiconductor vendors, Asia, particularly China and India is important market for the sheer volume this region offers. Now, China already has advanced fab and India has cleared semiconductor investment proposal for two fabs which are going to start mostly a 65 nm or a 45 nm node chips on 300mm silicon wafers. The fabs in both China and India can migrate to deeper nodes with less hurdles on 300 mm wafer process. But they will have investment, IP and development issues to build 450mm wafer fab.

So the strategy the global players such as Intel, GlobalFoundries and TSMC might adopt to beat the competition emerging from emerging regions is to go for a 450 mm wafer processing fab. The 450 mm wafer can produce two times more than 300 mm wafer. So the production cost of each chip made using 450mm wafer is cheaper by half compared to 300 mm.

The highlight at the semiconductor event SEMICON Europa, to be held on Oct 8-10, 2013 in Dresden, Germany is 450 mm transition. In the two-day special program, “450mm: Towards a Global Cooperation,” leaders from the Global 450 Consortium (G450C), European research European Commission and other public-funded projects, and leading suppliers going to discuss the path to participate in the future of the semiconductor manufacturing.

Heinz Kundert, president of SEMI Europe said “The impact of 450mm wafer processing, as well other technical and business challenges in semiconductor and related micro and nano-electronics industries, will be at the heart of SEMICON Europa.”

The SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and Mohawk Valley EDGE have also announced an expanded partnership to accelerate the attraction of next-generation 450mm semiconductor chip fabs to the Mohawk Valley, near New York, US.

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