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The Only Guarantee in the 450mm Conversation is...

The debate over 450mm wafer manufacturing has been raging for years within the semiconductor industry. Should it happen? Will it happen? When? Who will be the first to take the plunge? 

Development costs and fab costs are so high that only a select few companies are even capable of making it a reality. What does that mean for the rest of the industry?  For the equipment companies, the risks are higher than ever. 

There are fewer potential customers for 450mm equipment, and with more efficient production operations, fewer tools will be needed. How can the equipment vendors hope to recoup their development costs?

The only guarantee in the 450mm conversation is the ongoing need for more capacity.  Everything else seems up for debate.  Many now think it won't happen, or if it does happen that it will be pushed out several more years past recent estimates.  Mark Durcan of Micron recently cast doubt on 450mm happening at all, and is comfortable with Micron's investments in 300mm capacity.  He does not see the need to spend much on 450mm over the next five years. 

"It is true that there are fewer companies maintaining fabs, but the industry continues to demand chips with more functionality, and we need fabs to produce those chips in larger and larger volumes," said Adrienne Downey, Director of Technology Research for Semico.  "Based on Semico's Fab Database,  Wafer Demand model, and indepth analysis of 300mm supply trends, we believe many more 300mm fabs will need to be built if companies do not switch to 450mm."  

The dynamics of this wafer transition cycle are not that unusual. The variable that makes this cycle slightly different is the notion that if the adoption of 450mm wafers is pushed out beyond 7nm, it is highly likely that the industry will move to a completely different manufacturing option. 3D manufacturing and carbon nanotubes become more likely. 

Semico's report on 450mm steps through the history of 300mm wafer adoption, the forecasted unit and wafer demand which will drive the need for more advanced capacity, and takes a rational look at what this industry needs to do to continue on the path of innovation.  450mm Wafer Manufacturing:  The Semiconductor Industry at a Crossroads is 30 pages long, with 17 figures and 7 tables.  

Related Semico Research:

For More information, contact Rick Vogelei.
Phone: (480) 435 - 8564

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