450mm odds & ends: 450mm trumps “School Prime,” questioning TSMC’s 450mm push

300 Prime: A fancy name for natural evolution

A great deal of discussion at the Confab this week has centered on the transition to the 450mm wafer size. The well-known converse standpoint to 450mm has coalesced around the 300 Prime movement, which believes that there’s still much that can be done to improve efficiency and productivity of existing 300mm fabs. Now the “Prime” concept is being applied retroactively. In his Confab keynote, Doug Grose described efforts at AMD years ago to improve 200mm fab efficiency, prior to the company’s move to 300mm, as “200 Prime” and the previous generation as “200 Classic” (New Coke, anyone?). During a chat with Dan Hutcheson of VLSI Research, he scoffed at the idea of labeling what he described as natural equipment and fab evolution. “It’s like sending your kids to college and calling it ‘School Prime,'” he quipped to WaferNEWS. And the idea of equipment suppliers offering 300 Prime equipment is silly, he said, posing a question: Which would you prefer — the Classic 300 tool or the new 300 Prime tool with twice the throughput, at the same price? — P.S.

Equipment CEO: 450mm will happen if the money’s there

Art Zafiropoulo commented during the Q&A after Wednesday’s session on 450mm, saying that “It’s very difficult for companies today to fund this kind of program,” noting that 80% of SEMI members have annual sales <$25M. Nonetheless, he said, companies will put the work in to build tools -- if the money is there. "We don't have much choice; we have to support the customer base," he said. And because his company (Ultratech) is a public company, "it would be irresponsible [not to]." — D.V.

Japan shrugs at TSMC’s 450mm push

Takeshi Hattori, formerly a chief engineer at Sony and now a consultant (also teaching at Han-Yang U.), told WaferNEWSthat Japanese companies don’t understand why TSMC is pushing for 450mm wafers. The foundry’s customers tend to be those with smaller volumes — he said that anyone in Japan who needs low-volume production runs to TSMC, and only those with really high volumes go to foundry operations in Japan (e.g. Toshiba) or one of the big IDMs. Even if TSMC uses a project wafer approach with 450mm wafers, there will be orders for different numbers of chips with each mask, and they’d have to make enough chips for the maximum numbers of order in the group, he pointed out. That means extra chips for all the other orders, which doesn’t make sense to the Japanese. B.H.


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