≤200mm semiconductor manufacturing is here to stay

By Ted Shafer, Business Manager, Mature Product Sales, ASML

Ted Shafer of ASML reports on the highlights from the ≤200mm manufacturing session during SEMICON West, organized by the SEMI Secondary Equipment and Applications Special Interest Group. Your next opportunity to catch up on latest trends on ≤200mm manufacturing trends and its impact on the secondary equipment and applications market is SEMICON Europa 2016 and the Secondary Equipment Tech Arena session

Wednesday July 13th at SEMICON West a seminar and panel discussion were held to discuss the longevity and growth of the 200mm equipment market, and responses from IDMs, OEMs and 3rd parties to the challenges this growth presents.

Tim Tobin of Entrepix was the first speaker.  Entrepix is a premier 3rd party refurbisher of CMP and other process equipment.  Tim was the first to remark on a phenomenon that the other speakers and panelists also noted: a huge portion of the die in the devices we use daily do not require state of the art 300mm manufacturing.  For example, 60% - 80% of the chips in your smartphone or tablet are manufactured on 200mm – or smaller – wafers.  These wafers are created using mature equipment, which is frequently purchased from the secondary market, often from refurbishers such as Entrepix.

SEMI’s Christian Dieseldorff next provided a great overview of 200mm market trends, titled “200mm Fab: Trends, Status, and Forecast”.  Driven by the growth of IoT (Internet of Things), new 200mm fabs are being built and additional capacity is being added at existing fabs.  Key take-away is that after peaking in 2006, then declining for several years, 200mm wafer starts per month are now forecasted to exceed 2006’s level of 5.4M by 2019.  The question on everyone’s mind is, once that level is exceeded, where will the tools come from to manufacture those wafers?

200mm-image1

Pierric Gueguen of Yole spoke of the increased adoption of exotic substrates like GaN, Sapphire and Silicon Carbide.  These substrates provide many performance advantages, such as lower power consumption, faster switching speed, and high temperature resistance.  Yet the substrates cannot scale to 12”, and sometimes not to 8”.  So the increased adoption of these substrates is driving additional demand for 150mm/200mm tools.

As a counter-point to the 200mm discussions, Karen Erz of Texas Instruments gave a very well-received presentation on TI’s pivot to 300mm for analog, which has traditionally been manufactured on 200mm wafers.  A key to TI’s success is to embrace without fear buying opportunities for used equipment when they present themselves.  TI does not compete at the leading edge – their minimum feature size is 130nm – and thus mature, pre-owned, cost-effective equipment is always their first choice.  In fact, surplus 300mm is often more available, and less expensive, than comparable 200mm tools.  TI capitalized on the bankruptcies of the 300mm fabs of Qimonda Dresden, Qimonda Richmond, and PROMOS, also surplus tools at Powerchip, to scoop up large batches of inexpensive 300mm tools.  They continue to buy surplus 300mm tools when they come on the market, even in advance of actually requiring the tools.  As a result, 92% of RFAB’s analog production is done with pre-owned 300mm equipment.

Emerald Greig of Surplus Global, in addition to organizing the seminar, also provided a well-researched presentation on surplus equipment trends, titled “The Indispensable Secondary Market”.  Surplus Global is one of the largest surplus equipment traders, and they track the used equipment market very closely.  Emerald discussed how the supply of tools per year is trending dramatically downwards.  In 2009 they saw 6,000 tools come on the market, and that run-rate has steadily decreased to the point where by last year it was under 1,000/year.  This year we are at just 600.

200mm-image2

AMAT’s John Cummings provided the first OEM perspective on the 200mm market.  John showed how over 70% of the chips in the segments of automotive, wearables and mobile are produced on <=200mm wafers.  These segments are growing – for example a BMW i3 contains an astonishing 545 total die, and 484 of them are manufactured on <=200mm wafers.   AMAT reports that there are not enough used 200mm tools on the market to support the demand, and thus AMAT supplies their customers with new 200mm tools to augment the upgrades and refurbs they perform on pre-owned tools.  AMAT also provides new functionality for their mature 200mm products, increasing their usefulness and extending their lifetime.

Finally there was the OEM panel discussion, consisting of Kevin Chasey of TEL, David Sachse of LAM, Hans Peters from Ebara, and Ted Shafer of ASML.  Emerald Greig of Surplus Global provided some initial questions and solicited additional ones from the audience.   The OEMs echoed one common theme of the presentations, that 200mm demand is robust, and core tools are increasingly hard to find.  TEL additionally noted that China is a growing player in this market, and that OEMs must now support their 200mm product lines much longer than initially planned.  LAM said that 200mm core supply is so tight that the prices are rising above even comparable 300mm cores.  In response, LAM augments the supply of used tools by creating new 200mm tools.  Ebara added that the core tools coming on the market are often undesirable first-generation tools or tools in very bad condition.  On the other hand, this creates a role for the OEM, who has the expertise to make these tools production-worthy.  ASML noted that many of their larger 200mm customers are considering a migration from the PAS 5500 platform to ASML’s TWINSCAN platform for 200mm production.  Although developed for 300mm, and in general larger and more expensive than the 200mm 5500 series, ASML has spent the last 15 years making TWINSCANs increasingly productive and reliable, to the point where they often offer superior cost of ownership at 200mm than ASML’s 5500 platform.  Furthermore, customers buying TWINSCAN for 200mm production have an easy upgrade to 300mm when/if their plans call for it.

200mm-image3

In summary, the seminar showcased a robust exchange of ideas, where the presenters and panelists examined the resurgent 200mm market, and described many solutions to the common challenge of limited and expensive 200mm cores.

Attend SEMICON Europa and the Secondary Equipment & Applications session on October 26 to find out the latest trends and discuss in what areas OEMs, IDMs and secondary  market operators can cooperate more closely to improve sustainable access to legacy manufacturing equipment.

Find out more about SEMI’s Secondary Equipment and Applications Special Interest Group and the Secondary Equipment Legacy Management Program that is currently under development. For more information and to get involved, contact [email protected] (Ms. Rania Georgoutsakou, Director Public Policy for Europe, SEMI).

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