450mm – It’s bigger than you think

Much has been said of the 450mm transition.  But the description of this inflection is something of a misnomer.  Though everyone desires a smooth, coordinated and orderly conversion, it may be a little less placid than the term “transition” implies.  Rather, I suggest calling it the 450mm “transformation.”   Because, even for the segments that continue manufacturing semiconductor devices on 300mm and 200mm silicon wafers, the industry will change dramatically with the introduction of 450mm wafer processing. The 450mm era will impact industry composition, supply chain dynamics, capital spending concentration, future R&D capabilities and many other facets of today’s semiconductor manufacturing industry — not the least of which are the fabs, wafers and tools with which chips are made.

The shift to 450mm will take a several years to manifest and numerous complexities are being skillfully managed by multiple organizations and consortia.   For those reasons, the evolutionary tone of “transition” seems appropriate. However, once the changeover occurs, in hindsight, most in the industry will recognize that they participated in something transformational.

No transformation occurs in isolation and other factors will contribute to the revolutionary qualities of 450mm.  Market factors, new facilities design, next generation processing technology, the changing dynamics of node development and new materials integration will simultaneously affect the industry landscape.

While reading about the implications of 450mm is valuable, I believe that there is much to learn by being a part of the discussion. How is this future transformation being envisioned and acted on today?  I hope that you will join us — at our “live” event, where you will have the opportunity to hear first-hand information… direct from well-informed experts in the industry.

SEMICON West offers this opportunity with “Must See” 450mm events to mark on your calendar…

….450 Consortia plans, timelines and status; equipment development; critical standards; future-looking fab facilities and EHS issues; executive perspective, and vital R&D capabilities will all be covered at SEMICON West.

Wafer Standards

The transition to 450mm manufacturing is accompanied by the development of various standards aimed at achieving cost, efficiency and technology improvements. Some standards are a product of the deliberate consensus-based SEMI International Standards program, which has produced over 15 essential 450mm-specific standards to-date.  Additionally, consortia, customers and suppliers organize complementary efforts to align common approaches to transition solutions.

Potential revisions in the 450mm wafer specification are under consideration.  At least two issues are currently being evaluated by the industry and both portend significant ramifications for wafer suppliers, equipment makers and those technologies that interface with the wafer.

First, the wafer orientation method may be revised to eliminate the orientation “notch” on the perimeter of the substrate. The notch was introduced in the 300mm transition as an alternative to the flat.  However, both equipment suppliers and IC makers, through a constructive and collaborative dialog, have concluded that eliminating the notch can potentially improve the die yield, tool performance and cost.

Secondly, reduction of the wafer edge exclusion area — that peripheral portion of the silicon on which no viable device structure occurs — also offers potential yield advantages.  The current 450mm wafer specification (SEMI E76-0710), originally published in 2010, calls for a 2mm edge exclusion zone.  IC makers believe that reduction of this area to a 1.5mm dimension offers the cost equivalence of a 1 percent yield increase.  Though a percent may sound trivial, it is represents substantial increased value over time.

These and other wafer-related issues will be key topics at SEMICON West and will be thoroughly reviewed on Wednesday, July 10 at the SEMI Standards program entitled “Silicon Wafers — Future Standardization to Enable the Transition.” Materials will be presented by expert speakers including authoritative customers participating in the Global 450 Consortium (G450C), which includes Samsung, TSMC, IBM, Intel and GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

Facilities and EHS

Wafer transitions offer one of the rare periods when new approaches can be developed and integrated into facilities plans.  During the 300mm transition, significant developments occurred in factory automation and wafer handling. Similarly, the 450mm transition is a window to update the industry approach to a number of fab systems. Rising energy costs, water scarcity, and climate change will continue to present both challenges and opportunities for semiconductor manufacturing in the 450mm era. These sustainability concerns are driving demand for tools that can more reliably and cost-effectively achieve a shared vision of resource balance.

Along with cost and efficiency improvements, IC makers and consortia driving the transition to 450mm manufacturing expect to achieve similar or better environmental performance. Larger footprints and resource demands from 450mm facilities in conjunction with mandates for environmentally aware operations are compelling fabs and suppliers to consider sustainability and systems integration at greater levels than ever before. 

Experts in fab facilities, energy, water and equipment engineering will discuss the implications of 450mm to environment, health and safety during the SEMICON West 450mm Manufacturing EHS Forum on Wednesday, July 10.

Included in the presentations are perspectives from the Facility 450 Consortium (F450C) including Ovivo, Edwards and M+W Group.  A holistic Site Resource Model that provides semiconductor manufacturers visibility into effective reduction of total energy and water demands for individual systems, as well as for the entire facility will be reviewed by CH2M Hill. The model is an integrated analytical approach to assess and optimize a semiconductor facility’s thermal energy, electrical energy, and water demand, as well as the cost associated with these resources.

Also, the bigger, heavier and taller equipment envisioned for 450 entails new considerations for installation, movement and maintenance.  Making sure these issues don’t detract from the other cost saving achievements is a key consideration for facilities planning.  G450C representatives will review the status of component lift analysis currently underway. The solutions potentially alter fab facilities dimensions, tool engineering and service regimes.

450 TechXPOT

The SEMICON West 450mm Transition Forum covers the latest updates from those closest to the action.  The event occurs on Thursday, July 11 at the South Hall TechXPOT located in Moscone Center.  Paul Farrar, general manager of Global 450mm Consortium will provide an update and status on G450C. Hamid Zarringhalam, executive vice president, Nikon Precision, will review the challenges and status of 450mm lithography — which is shaping up to be one of the most uncertain yet critical 450mm planning considerations. Chris Richard, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC will talk about “Improving Semiconductor Equipment Vendor Profitability during the 450mm Transition.”

Then, SEMI will host a discussion among the world’s foremost 450mm tool experts from leading equipment companies.  The discussion panel will include: Kirk Hasserjian, corporate vice president, Silicon Systems Group, Applied Materials, Inc., Brian Trafas, Ph.D., chief marketing officer, KLA-Tencor; Mark Fissel, vice president, 450mm Program, Lam Research Corporation; and Akihisa Sekiguchi, Ph.D., vice president and general manager of SPE Marketing, Tokyo Electron Limited.  We have a few provocative topics to review with panel members.  If you have questions or topics you want addressed by those at the front line of the 450mm transformation, feel free to send us your suggestions.

In summary, a transformation will occur in IC manufacturing with the introduction of larger wafers, but it begins with serious engineering that is occurring now.  Attend SEMICON West to learn more about wafer specifications, EHS and facilities— considerations and business strategies for success and be better prepared for the numerous implications of 450mm era.

Learn more about it here: www.semiconwest.org. Register now at www.semiconwest.org/registration.




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One thought on “450mm – It’s bigger than you think

  1. Bob Roberts

    In your third paragraph in the section "Wafer Standards" you mention that the notch replaced the "flat" when 300mm was introduced. I believe that notches came into vogue at the 200mm transition point (except for Japan), which was long before the 300mm transition point started.


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