ISMI tips early 300mm Prime progress

September 27, 2006 – The International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) has laid out the initial scope of its 300mm Prime effort to encourage improvements in 300mm manufacturing productivity, and ultimately help ease the transition to the next wafer size — 450mm.

The 300mm Prime program, launched in January, seeks input from all corners of the semiconductor landscape, including both chipmakers and equipment suppliers. “We want to guide this wafer transition the right way, by making sure the doors are open to all industry stakeholders,” said program manager Tom Abell, in a statement. “The work we do this year will help us assess the capabilities of 300 Prime.”

So far the project has tentatively defined several pain points in current fab operations, with varying degrees of risk. For example, updating process tools with recipe and parameter management capabilities would be classified as “small risk,” while replacing batch systems with single-wafer tools is a “moderate risk,” and implementing a new high-speed factorywide automated handling system represents higher risk.

Other examples of areas deemed ripe for productivity improvements by 300mm Prime planners: Advanced lot dispatch and scheduling (low risk), minimizing first wafer delays (low-risk), local lot storage (moderate risk), optimizing tools for high-mix operations (moderate risk), automated reticle delivery systems (higher risk), and accommodating variable lot sizes throughout the factory (higher risk). (An in-depth analysis of the 300mm Prime project appeared in the July issue of SST.)

Abell noted that the program is being sensitive to suppliers’ needs, while seeking productivity improvements in chipmakers’ manufacturing strategies. “We’ve learned that our approach must be as diverse and flexible as the industry itself, while also allowing suppliers to receive incremental revenues as new tools, standards, and practices are introduced,” he stated.

To address issues that will help pave the way to an eventual transition to 450mm wafer sizes — e.g., wafer thickness and carrier size to batch size, factory dimensions, wafer transport mechanisms, and standards for process control data — ISMI has been working with SEMI’s Manufacturing Technology Forum. That group was launched earlier this year to foster better communication among device makers and equipment suppliers, and more promptly develop a clear understanding of what semiconductor manufacturing standards will be needed, and by when.

ISMI and SEMI also have formed a Joint Productivity Working Group, to bring all sides to a mutual understanding of economic and technical challenges while developing options for addressing them — e.g., engage suppliers to validate modeling ROI and cost assumptions to reflect industry reality. Inputs from both groups will be used to develop a 300 Prime capability assessment, with details on potential benefits and cost reductions, through 2006 and beyond, according to ISMI.

Updates on 300mm Prime objectives and progress will be provided at several upcoming industry events, including the International Symposium on Semiconductor Manufacturing (Sept. 28 in Tokyo) and ISMI’s own Symposium on Manufacturing Effectiveness (Oct. 9-11 in Austin, TX). A review of 2006 results and 2007 plans for 300mm Prime and 450mm will be given at SEMICON Japan (Dec. 6-8).

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