Silicon wafers are the most essential element in the realization of ICs. The semiconductor industry had invested heavily to increase the wafer size during the last 30 years, so while foundries used to produce 1 inch wafers, today’s common wafer size is 300mm (118 times larger than 1 inch). There is a clear plan to move towards a 450mm wafer size (1.5 times larger than 300mm).
Increasing wafer size is not a trivial process. As a matter of fact, silicon wafer manufacturing technologies were re-engineered in order to achieve the technology necessary to increase the wafer size during the years. It is difficult to grasp the amount of capital invested in the size growth innovation. My guess is around a triple-digit Billion USD.