TSMC rates automation toolmakers, pleads for software resources

By Paula Doe and Debra Vogler

WaferNews Editors

It’s only one customer’s opinion, but Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) says so far Hitachi Kokusai and Sony are doing the best job on 300mm automation, meeting 90% of TSMC specifications.

Another five toolmakers – Ebara, Applied Materials, Lam, TEL, and SEZ – are also doing reasonably well, clustered together in the respectable high 60% to low 70% range. But half the major tool suppliers it rated still met less than 50% of TSMC’s 300mm automation expectations. And some major names were only meeting 20 to 30%, or worse.

N.S.Tsai, senior director of TSMC’s 300mm project, told ISSM’s 300mm workshop that tool suppliers overall were currently meeting only about 50% of its specifications. Naturally, most problems came in advanced process control and advanced wafer control, where he cited 34 instances where these systems were not yet ready. Auto transport was not ready in another 26 cases, and a dozen makers still didn’t have communications ready. He urged suppliers to put resources into software to remove this major bottleneck to the adoption of 300mm tools.

TSMC originally expected tool suppliers to be able to meet auto transport standards (E84/E87) by the end of 2000 for its 300mm fab. But Tsai said so far only 49% do so. Vendors forecast 78% compliance by the end of this year, 84% in 1Q02, and 96% by 2Q02.

The company plans to have Fab 12 start volume production in December. TSMC expects to finish full installation of the automated materials handling system, with some 50 stockers and 40 overhead bays, by July 2002. The company is still looking at starting 0.1-micron 300mm production in 4Q02.

Other TSMC speakers at ISSM also said the foundry planned to automate the handling of even monitor wafers, so it planned to go to wafer-level tracking.


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