Total Facility Solutions
A major challenge facing the industry in the coming year is how to deliver products faster without affecting budgets or compromising safety and quality.
The continued technology innovations will still support investment, and the ongoing move to mobile computing is a major driver in everyone's forecast. The bottom line is that the industry will continue to advance, with Moore's Law and economics driving market opportunity. From a US standpoint, we must continue to invest in emerging technologies and maintain our leadership status as an R&D center of excellence -- driving investment is important. At the same time, we can't continue to afford to just innovate here then provide incentives to drive manufacturing overseas. We must find a way to keep heavily IP-weighted manufacturing in the US. What has happened in New York is a great example. Previously known for high labor rates, now some of the top manufacturers in the industry are bringing their manufacturing there, proving the US is not only an innovator, but a viable producer of a quality product at a lower total cost.
Most notably, in semiconductor manufacturing, 450mm is the next big opportunity. Issues of economic scale and complexity will force fab designers, OEMs and process integrators to investigate all open avenues in the search for solutions to the huge challenges that accompany 450mm. Next generation fabs present new challenges with respect to the design of the facilities, substrate handling, tool connection, chemical distribution, water and electrical systems and other areas. A transition to a bigger wafer size will bring many opportunities – some of which include helping to evolve the way we fabricate devices, introducing different chemistries, supporting greener, more sustainable builds and improving the efficiency of the entire process infrastructure.
The general idea that was used to develop 300mm equipment was to simply scale 200mm tools. From a cost and physical size standpoint, this approach simply won't be adequate to achieve success for 450mm. We must innovate in terms of process technology, substrate handling/transport and process flexibility. "Point of Process" sensing and control technology will be critical, since remote subsystems (in the sub-fab) will not be sufficient for 450mm -- the tool will really need to be an integrated process line. In short, we need to understand the 450mm impact to the fab facility infrastructure
Right now, with 450mm in its infancy, no one really knows what to expect, especially with regards to tool installation and hook up as design packages aren't ready yet and in some cases the tools don't even exist. The transition faces numerous challenges, as is the nature of the business.
Given the industry's pressures on profitability and the challenges of the current economic climate, there is significant incentive for a collaborative supply chain. Collaboration has become essential even in the earliest stages of the planning and building of any semiconductor manufacturing facility, but given the enormity of the 450mm opportunity, a high quality, cost-effective supply chain performance becomes even more important. In addition, the consortia model or the Japanese Koretsu model will also be necessary. The number of manufacturers and suppliers in the 450mm ecosystem will be small, so standardization, joint investment or joint development will be of paramount importance. It won't work to simply give a supplier a spec and price target and say, "make this for me asap."
Solid State Technology | Volume 56 | Issue 1 | January 2013