A fresh perspective on 450mm
I recently had the good fortune to moderate the SEMI Northeast Forum on 450mm in Albany. Presenters were Michael Liehr, vice president of research for CNSE and general manager of the G450C Consortium; Bruce Kellerman, Senior Director, Product Marketing, MEMC; Gary Gallagher, VP, 300mm and 450mm /On-site Services; and Akihisa "Aki" Sekiguchi, SPE Corporate Marketing, Tokyo Electron Ltd. (Aki was a last minute stand-in for IBM's Paul Farrar who was called away on business).
The forum was held in one of the auditoriums at the CNSE Albany Nanotech campus, which has rapidly become the focal point of semiconductor R&D in North America.
Liehr led things off with what was really the first public glimpse into the new G450C. He said their goal was to install about 100 450mm tools in a large cleanroom at CNSE (in the $365 million NanoFab Xtension building under construction). These would represent 50 different tool types, with two competing suppliers of each type of tool. Request for quotes (RFQs) have already been sent out, and he expects tools to start arriving in the second half of 2013, with the remainder of the tools coming in over the subsequent one and a half years. The pilot line, if you want to call it that, would then be operational around the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.
The G450C was part of a huge investment of $4.4 billion was announced last year, with $400 million coming from New York State, for R&D in Albany and other NY sites (2500 new high tech jobs!).
Despite this noteworthy progress, many challenges remain before 450mm can become a reality. "It's a real challenge for us," Kellerman of MEMC said. "We're basically going to be losing money until this reaches maturity. It's an ugly scenario." He said he saw no significant technical hurdles, noting that mechanical wafes are readily available and test wafers are being made available. However, he said, many issues were unclear: the timing, the transistor architecture, the starting material and the tool availability, to name a few. G450C is off to a great start, but it is still early.
Solid State Technology, Volume 55, Issue 4, May 2012