Infineon moves on 300mm fab

Christine Lunday

DRESDEN, GERMANY-Just two years after setting up the Semiconductor 300 pilot line under a joint venture with Motorola, Infineon Technologies says it's ready to invest roughly $1 billion to launch a new 300mm production DRAM fab in Dresden, Germany.

Meanwhile, Motorola says it's still not sure when it will move ahead with construction of its own 300mm facility, currently slated to be built at the company's West Creek campus in Goochland County, VA. The biggest hurdle for Motorola, according to a company spokesperson, is the lack of a full 300mm toolset for logic production. “We're waiting on the toolset to be far enough along … it's a year away from being production volume ready,” he says.

The planned $3-billion fab, known as MOS19, has been postponed twice since its inception in 1995 because of poor market conditions and the push out of the industry's transition to 300mm. The latest delay came in 1998 as part of a capital spending cut.

Motorola says it has no plans to participate in the new Infineon 300mm fab, primarily because it needs to focus on 300mm logic production. While the Dresden-based SC300 line has been centered on DRAM processes, it's likely that the joint venture will wind down in 2000. The SC300 contract between the chipmakers is due for review this year. “We've reached all milestones,” says a spokesperson for Infineon. “We're still continuing the joint venture at this point. It's probably scheduled to terminate this year.”

While the majority of the toolset Motorola needs for 300mm logic production is in place at SC300, “at some point we have to go off and finish the logic toolset for Motorola use,” notes the Motorola spokesman.

By many accounts, SC300 is considered a 300mm success story; the venture has served as a valuable resource for 300mm process and tool development. Through the venture, Infineon has qualified and delivered 64Mb DRAM devices produced on 300mm wafers and is working toward qualifying 256Mb DRAM devices.

Details on the new Infineon fab production plans are sketchy; more information is expected to be made public following the planned groundbreaking in May. Investments in the facility will total more than 1 billion Euro (about US$957 million) over a three-year period. While negotiations are still underway, other participants in the project, known as Infineon Technologies SC300 GmbH & Co., include M+W Zander and the State of Saxony. In addition, officials expect the project to create roughly 1,100 new jobs.

For its part, M+W Zander will participate in the construction of the new fab; the project is valued in the “three-digit million Euros range,” says an M+W spokesperson. Current plans call for the fab to be built as an extension of an existing module in Dresden, near where the SC300 line is located. First product will likely be delivered within three years. There may be some linking of the new facility to the existing 300mm pilot line; or, the spokesperson says, Infineon may opt to use the 300mm pilot space to expand its 200mm line there, depending on the outcome of the SC300 review this year.

Infineon also is negotiating with another chip company to reopen the shuttered North Tyneside DRAM fab in the UK, says the spokesperson. For such an arrangement, the two companies are discussing a joint effort for the fab, which closed in 1998 after being in operation for only 15 months.

Christine Lunday is associate editor of WaferNews. This article is reprinted from WaferNews V 7.14 (April 10, 2000).


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