450mm Ultimately an Economic Issue – according to Speakers at SEMICON Japan 450mm Executive Forum

450mm Ultimately an Economic Issue – according to Speakers at SEMICON Japan 450mm Executive Forum

By Yoichiro Ando, SEMI Japan 

On December 5, SEMI hosted the 450mm Executive Forum at the SEMICON Japan 2013 SuperTHEATER featuring speakers from G450C, imec, Nikon and Tokyo Electron to share the perspectives of the leaders at these key organizations and enterprises with about 585 attendees packing the conference room. The bottom line commonly heard from the four speakers was “450mm is ultimately an economic issue and synchronicity among the industry through global coordination is the key to a successful transition to 450mm.”

Chip Cost Must Continuously Decline by 30%

Paul Farrar, general manager at Global 450 Consortium (G450C), said historically the transitions to a larger wafer have yielded a 30 percent cost reduction and enabled economics associated with Moore’s Law, and this is the underlying goal of the transition to the 450mm wafer diameter.

Roger De Keersmaecker, senior vice president at imec, pointed to ever-increasing technology complexity that pushes wafer prices up and that has begun eroding the scaling benefit. Along with EUV lithography, he said that the 450mm wafer transition will contribute the further cost scaling in accordance with Moore’s Law.

Facilitating Full Industry Collaboration

At the SEMI 450mm Executive Forum at SEMICON Japan, Farrar said more than 25 tools were being delivered to G450C in 2013. As to the lithography tool, 193i patterning service will start at a Nikon site in Japan in the second half of 2014 and at Albany sometime in the first half of 2015. He also noted there was a significant progress in the wafer quality and notchless 450mm wafer standardization with SEMI. Notchless wafer proponents hope to have a standard balloted and approved by July 2014.

Both Farrar and De Keersmaecker claimed the 450mm transition calls for global collaboration throughout the semiconductor supply chain to share the cost and the risk. To facilitate this, G450C and imec are building 450mm developing environments in their respective regions, Europe and North America.

De Keersmaecker said imec plans to build a new 300/450 R&D pilot line by the first half of 2016. The full process capability will become available for device and process developments in 2017, and 450mm production is scheduled for 2019. 

Synchronicity — The Key to Economic Efficiency

Kazuo Ushida, president of Precision Equipment Company at Nikon Corp., also confirmed that the 450mm wafer transition would be needed to maintain the Moore’s Law cost scaling curve and discussed the transition's affordability. The 450mm tool development cost is estimated to be around 14 billion U.S. dollars but Ushida said it would increase to 20 billion U.S. dollars if 450mm tool delivery has two peaks as was the case with 300mm tool development.

Therefore, synchronicity among the entire industry is the key to a successful transition and this could be the reason that Ushida modified Nikon’s schedule for high-volume manufacturing tool readiness. One year ago at SEMICON Japan, he called for tool readiness by 2017. At this year's forum, he was less specific about high-volume manufacturing and referred to readiness "when the industry makes the transition.”

Akihisa Sekiguchi, VP and deputy GM at Tokyo Electron Limited, also said fixing the target node and timing among the customers would be the key to a successful transition. He said that today’s technical requirements are achievable on 450mm wafers, and if the target is fixed, the company would deliver the 450mm tools at the right time and at the right cost.  Additionally he pointed out that the balanced resource allocation is also critical for tool suppliers as concurrent development of 300mm and 450mm tools required today is expensive.

While 300mm tool development payback took around 20 years at Nikon, Ushida estimates 450mm tool development will occur 22 years after initial spending. Interestingly, this time to payback matches with the Boeing 747 project, according to Ushida’s estimation. Both machines are considered to be cost effective though. Without appropriate coordination on the 450mm tool delivery schedule in the industry, the required time will further prolong the payback period and that is hardly acceptable to the equipment industry.

Presentations Available at 450 Central and the SEMICON Japan Website

You can download the 450 presentations and eight additional programs from the SEMICON Japan SuperTHEATER such as 3D-IC Summit and PE Summit. See the list of the programs at www.semiconjapan.org/en/sessions/supertheater.

Also, for more comprehensive coverage of 450 news, you can download these three 450 presentations from SEMICON Japan at the 450mm Central website (under "Papers/Presentations/Resources)."  The website includes articles, presentations from multiple sources, and reports on 450mm development.

More information related to 450mm will be offered at upcoming SEMI events, including:  

For further information, please visit the SEMI website at www.semi.org.

January 8, 2014