450 mm wafers in 2017 and EUV in 2014 through 2018

The transition to 450 mm (18 inch) wafers and EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography have been anticipated for many years. It appears the transitions could finally be in sight.

1. EETimes – The first production semiconductor fabs to use 450-mm wafers are projected to commence operation in 2017, according to Christian Dieseldorff, a senior analyst with the fab tool vendor trade group SEMI’s industry research and statistics group.

In a presentation at the Semicon West tradeshow here Monday (July 9), Dieseldorff predicted that three 450-mm fabs would commence operation in 2017. By that time, the total number of IC production fabs will have declined to 441, down from 464 this year, according to Dieseldorf.

At the same event where Dieseldorff spoke Monday, Bob Johnson, research vice president for semiconductor manufacturing at Gartner Inc., said widespread adoption of 450-mm wafers would not occur until 2018 at the earliest, but more likely in 2019 or 2020.

Johnson predicted that the first alpha 450-mm development tools would be available late this year or early next year, with the first production tools not expected until 2016 or 2017.

Johnson said that if the transition to 300-mm wafers in the early 2000s is any guide, chip makers would first construct large 450-mm fab shells but equip them sparsely while they “debugged” the process.

2. EETimes- An innovative equity-plus-research funding scheme assembled by lithography tool vendor ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) to pay for extreme ultra violet R&D and the transition to 450-mm diameter wafer technologies, is being put in place to produce EUV results in 2018, the company has said. The scheme will have no impact on the current generation of EUV machine, which is already considered to be late to market.

The funding project is also being applied to creating ArF, ArF immersion and KrF lithography systems capable of handling 450-mm diameter wafers, which could arrive sooner than 2018.

ASML is trying to raise 1.38 billion euro (about $1.7 billion) to fund its next phase of EUV lithography and 450-mm diameter wafer development. To help persuade its customers to pay for the R&D ASML is offering the chance to buy up to a 25 percent stake in the company. Intel has signed up to take a 15 percent stake. ASML has said it is still negotiating with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. over taking up to a 10 percent stake in the company.

The current EUV program, for which we have committed to customers – and to our shareholders – that we’ll be in production in 2014, that’s the current machine called the 3300.

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