In the News


Intel Revamps Arizona Wafer Fab to Handle 65-nm and 300-mm Processes

SANTA CLARA, CA - Intel Corp. reopened its semiconductor manufacturing facility in Chandler, AZ by converting it to a 300-mm, 65-nm process factory. Designated Fab 12, this factory - Intel’s second volume-production fab using 65-nm process technology produced on 300-mm wafers - aims to output the most microprocessors with the lowest cost worldwide.

“The re-opening of Fab 12 marks a first for Intel and the semiconductor industry,” says Bob Baker, senior VP and general manager for Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group. “The conversion of an existing factory to leading-edge technology - both larger wafer size and most advanced semiconductor technology - further adds to Intel’s manufacturing capability and improves our ability to better serve our customers.”

The Fab 12 conversion project, which began in 2004 and cost roughly $2B, was completed in approximately 18 months. Fab 12 is Intel’s fifth fab using 300-mm wafers. Intel’s other facilities that manufacture using 300-mm wafers are Fab 11X in New Mexico, D1D and D1C in Oregon, and Fab 24 in Ireland. This project will broaden Intel’s Arizona presence and capitalize on the area’s highly skilled workforce.

Intel sent over 800 Fab 12 employees to other Intel fabs during the construction phase to obtain advanced training on the newest tools and 300-mm technology. “The logistics of relocating 800 employees and their families were extremely complex and cost millions of dollars,” says co-plant manager of Fab 12, Steve Megli. “Our efforts have paid off as we have a world-class workforce and facility poised to supply new and exciting products for Intel.”

STATS ChipPAC to Kick Off Gold-bumping Operation in China

SINGAPORE AND FREMONT, CA - STATS ChipPAC Ltd. will open a 200-mm wafer-bumping operation in China that focuses on gold-bump services for the liquid-crystal display (LCD) driver market. The new operation will also provide wafer-sort services for LCD driver ICs and mixed-signal devices. LCD driver ICs are used in notebook PCs, desktop monitors, LCD TVs, and mobile phones. With the growth potential for LCD driver ICs, gold-bumping capacity is forecasted to be in tight supply. China is in an excellent position to support growth in LCD production due to its established supply chain and low-cost manufacturing base.

STATS ChipPAC’s new 200-mm wafer-bumping and sort operation will be located in Songjiang Science and Technology Park in the Songjiang District of Shanghai. STATS ChipPAC plans to install gold-bump and wafer-sort equipment in the new operation by the end of 2005, and also anticipates a ramp-up to high-volume manufacturing levels by mid-2006.

“Our new 200-mm wafer bumping and sort operation underscores STATS ChipPAC’s continued strong commitment to expanding back-end supply chain solutions in China,” states Tan Lay Koon, STATS ChipPAC’s president and CEO. “Strategically, we are confident that LCD customers will benefit from having gold-bump and wafer-sort services located in Songjiang. In addition, STATS ChipPAC’s new China facility will expand our wafer-sort capacity for mixed-signal devices.”

SIA Praises Agreement to Eliminate Duties on MCPs

SAN JOSE, CA - An agreement to eliminate duties on multi-chip package (MCP) ICs - semiconductor devices that include more than one silicon chip inside the package - was announced by United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Rob Portman. The draft Agreement on Duty-Free Treatment of Multi-Chip Integrated Circuits was finalized at the Governments/Authorities Meeting on Semiconductors (GAMS) in Seoul, Korea. Representatives of the governments and authorities from the U.S., Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and the European Commission will now return home to each complete their approval processes. GAMS members expect to eliminate duties on MCP ICs starting January 1, 2006.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) applauds these efforts. “This is a major step forward in our effort to eliminate tariffs on MCPs and lower costs of semiconductor technology for consumers around the world,” says SIA president George Scalise. “Ambassador Rob Portman and his team at USTR deserve our appreciation and applause for their persistence in pursuing this agreement. MCPs are a new, fast-growing product - cutting tariffs to zero on this product is vital to ensure continued growth.”

Although semiconductors are covered by the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), and are duty-free in much of the world, packaging has evolved so that certain semiconductor devices allow more than one silicon chip inside each package. This caused customs authorities to classify MCPs into a category that was no longer duty-free. As a result, the U.S., Korea, and European Union (EU) imposed duties on these semiconductor products. The U.S. has not imposed duties on any semiconductor devices since the mid-1980s. The U.S. and Korean duty on MCPs is 2.6%, and the EU duty ranges close to 4%.

The worldwide market for MCPs grew from zero 5 years ago to $4.2B in 2004, and is likely to nearly double to $7.92B by 2008, with a 25% compounded annual growth rate, which significantly outpaces the growth rate in the rest of the industry.

Agilent Technologies Signs Deal with NAND Manufacturer

PALO ALTO, CA - Agilent Technologies Inc. announced that a provider of advanced memory solutions purchased multiple Agilent Versatest Series Model V5400s for testing NAND flash memory at wafer sort, targeting known-good-die (KGD) and data storage card applications. Agilent attributes winning the agreement to its flash applications expertise, benchmark results, and technology innovations, such as the ability to test up to 288 devices in parallel.

The V5400, a high-volume manufacturing wafer-sort tester allows manufacturers to test both DRAM and flash memory die across a full spectrum of memory devices used in consumer electronics, such as MP3 players, memory cards, digital cameras, USB stick drives, and mobile communication devices. The configuration flexibility enables the V5400 to support parallel testing of up to 288 NAND devices and test full-pin-count NOR, NAND, Synch Flash, DRAM, and embedded memory.

NAND demand will grow 214% this year based on an increase in content requirements for major applications, such as digital still cameras and MP3 players, according to Soo-Kyoum Kim, market research analyst at IDC.¹ “Low pricing during the end of year to the first half of 2006 will help drive overall bit demand growth for the next year to 143%, which will drive supply and demand balance by mid-2006,” says Kim. “The mobile phone market will become a more significant contributor to bit demand by the second half of 2006.”

“We are seeing a major trend of traditional DRAM manufacturers diversifying their production into both DRAM and NAND,” says Pascal Ronde, VP of Agilent’s Semiconductor Test Solutions. “A flexible NAND tester can test both NAND and DRAM efficiently, while DRAM testers can test only DRAM devices.”

  1. Source: IDC “Worldwide NAND Flash Memory Demand and Supply 1Q05-4Q06 Forecast and Analysis,” Report #34037, September 2005, by Soo-Kyoum Kim.