September 29, 2004 – Mainland China’s entry into volume production of 300mm wafers officially began in late September with the formal opening of a $1 billion fab in Beijing by silicon foundry supplier Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC).
With the initial 0.11-0.10-micron processes now ramping into volume runs for DRAMs in the Beijing factory, the Shanghai-based foundry is preparing to build two other 300mm facilities adjacent to the new Fab 4 plant.
Fab 6C expansion is planned for 2005, and Fab 5 is planned in 2006, with further 300mm expansion depending upon market demand, according to a SMIC spokesperson. With newly opened Fab 4 expected to ramp 300mm production to 4000 wafer starts/month by December, SMIC’s total capacity — counting four 200mm fabs in Shanghai and Tianjin, China — is projected to reach 125,000 200mm equivalent wafers/month at the end of this year.
Four-year-old SMIC completed a $1.8 billion initial public offering in mid-March, and it now expects to invest up to $2 billion in new capacity in 2004. Fab 4 in Beijing began pilot production runs in July, and with the Sept. 25 formal opening ceremony, SMIC officials declared the start of volume production. Initially China’s first 300mm fab will supply high-density DRAMs to memory rivals Infineon Technology AG of Germany and Elpida Memory Inc. of Japan. However, SMIC also is preparing advanced logic processes for foundry customers on 300mm wafers.
SMIC’s Fab 6C will be a dedicated back-end-of-line (BEOL) 300mm production facility, aimed at completing the copper interconnect layers of ICs for integrated device makers seeking to reduce their capital expenditures by outsourcing BEOL steps. Fab 5 is expected to be a fully dedicated front-end-of-line (FEOL) facility, similar to Fab 4, which is slated to reach a 300mm capacity of 18,000 wafers/month by the end of 2005. At the formal opening of Fab 4, officials said the facility is believed to be the world’s first fab with rain and sewage reclamation systems as well as power-saving cooling equipment, making the 300mm plant more competitive and environmentally friendly. — J. Robert Lineback, Senior Technical Editor