Secondary Equipment Essential for U.S. Fab Productivity

Secondary Equipment Essential for U.S. Fab Productivity

While much of the news is focused on new, leading edge fabs, older production facilities including those using 200 mm equipment will dominate world semiconductor production for the next ten years.  In fact, over half of the silicon production today comes from facilities that are over ten years old.  Extending the life of fab tools, managing tool reuse, and the availability of spare parts, software and technical support are critical issues for this large part of the industry.

Secondary EquipMany of these issues will be discussed in the session, “Secondary Market Challenges & Future” at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11 at the TechXPOT South.

According to a study SEMI and Semico Research, the secondary equipment market posted sales of $6 billion in 2010, up 77 percent from the previous year, and represented 13% of all semiconductor equipment sales for the year. Exacerbating the demand for secondary semiconductor equipment is the dramatic growth in MEMS, LED, LCD and power chip sectors that also rely upon tool reuse.

SEMI began its secondary equipment special interest group through its 2008 acquisition of SEC/N, an industry group, and the subsequent formation of a special interest group devoted to the market, now known as Secondary Equipment & Applications (SEA). The SEA group has since been active in establishing chapters around the world. It now has chapters in China, Japan, South Korea and the U.S., with chapters in Europe and Southeast Asia getting off the ground.

Those chapters are working on establishing standards and ethical best practices in the business, and work towards bringing buyers, sellers, brokers, refurbishers, and other firms together to advance the interests of all.

One issue being addressed by the SEA group is the obsolescence of parts for semiconductor equipment.  A piece of used equipment repurposed for fabricating MEMS devices might be 20 years old, and the company that made it is long out of business. Other issues include the lack of engineering talent to work with the complex equipment and the extensibility of software licenses.

On the horizon is the issue of the industry transition to 450-millimeter wafer fabrication, which is expected to produce a considerable surplus 300mm and 200mm equipment.

For more information on joining the SEMI Secondary Equipment & Applications (SEA) group, please visit the SEMI website at: www.semi.org/secondarymarket.

July 2, 2012