Mark LaPedus, Semiconductor Engineering
May 15th, 2014
Chipmakers have stopped beating the 450mm drums. So what’s up with 450mm technology?
At one time, Intel, TSMC and Samsung were aggressively beating the 450mm drum. Chipmakers wanted, if not demanded, 450mm pilot line fabs by 2016, with high-volume manufacturing 450mm plants slated by 2018.
At least for those companies, 450mm made some sense. Moving to 450mm wafers would supposedly give chipmakers a 2.25x boost in wafer area and a 30% cost reduction over 300mm substrates. But, of course, the business model was (and still is) shaky. Only a few chipmakers can afford to build 450mm fabs, which, in turn, limits the total available market for selling fab tools.
But after resisting the move towards 450mm technology for several years, the fab tool industry finally decided to follow suit. With some arm twisting from the big chipmakers, the equipment industry started to develop their first tools based on the next-generation wafer size.