A comprehensive strategy designed to enhance 300mm productivity while preparing the chip industry for 450mm wafers was revealed this week by technologists of the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI). In meetings with industry suppliers and journalists during SEMICON West, ISMI outlined plans to focus its existing 300mmPrime program on targeted productivity and cycle time improvements, and to initiate a 450mm program to drive down overall manufacturing costs. ISMI director Scott Kramer said the twin programs are designed for compatibility, with most cycle time improvements from 300mmPrime expected to be useful in 450 mm manufacturing.
“ISMI is moving forward on complementary, forward-compatible paths for 300mmPrime and 450mm technology,” Kramer said. “We will pursue 300mm improvements that offer near-term productivity benefits in cycle time and modest cost reduction. At the same time, we’re initiating a 450mm program that will be dedicated to moving the industry ahead toward 450mm manufacturing capability.”
Kramer said the dual strategy reflects the diverse needs of ISMI member companies, which see value both in extending 300mm manufacturing and in establishing industry infrastructure for 450mm wafers. “Our approach of converging 300mmPrime with 450mm aims to maximize efficiency and reduce the R&D burden on the industry, especially the supplier community,” he said.
Tom Abell, manager of the 450mm program, said ISMI’s decision is based on nine months of intensive modeling that produced more than 130 full-factory, dynamic simulations. These efforts, representing over 5000 hours of programming and analysis, investigated whether anticipated improvements from 300mmPrime alone could meet ISMI’s goals of reducing manufacturing cost per area by 30 percent and cycle time by 50 percent.
“The data shows that 300mmPrime has theoretical potential to achieve the targeted reduction in cycle time, but it does not sufficiently address our members’ cost reduction needs,” Abell said. “It appears that the key to significant wafer cost reduction can be found only in larger wafers.”
Abell said ISMI’s revised 300mmPrime program will focus on areas that the models identified as having the greatest potential for reducing cycle time, including:
- Reduction in first-wafer delay and set-up
- Improvement in tool availability
- Single wafer/mini-batch furnace process tools
Concurrently, the new 450mm program will be organized this year and will pursue several goals in 2008, including:
- Ensuring the availability of 450mm silicon wafers
- Developing 450mm factory integration guidelines and standards
- Creating a prototype test bed for 450mm factory integration
Acknowledging the importance of industry-wide support, Kramer said ISMI will immediately begin meeting with suppliers to discuss the implications and opportunities for 300mmPrime and 450mm. Additional steps will include continued development of next-generation factory guidelines and an update on detailed 450mm plans at the 4th ISMI Symposium on Manufacturing Effectiveness to be held Oct. 24-25 in Austin.
“ISMI will proceed consistent with our principle that 300mmPrime is a productivity continuum to 450mm,” Kramer said.
ISMI is a global alliance of the world’s major semiconductor manufacturers, dedicated to reducing cost per wafer, and ultimately cost per die, through cooperative programs focused on manufacturing effectiveness. The consortium conducts programs in manufacturing infrastructure, methods, standards, and productivity, with the aim of reducing the costs of producing finished wafers and chips and driving solutions to major productivity challenges. ISMI is a wholly owned subsidiary of SEMATECH of Austin, TX.