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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company admitted that the economic crisis and inability to get massive financial support from financial institutions under attractive terms would delay the launch of semiconductor manufacturing facilities that process 450mm wafers by several years. At present TSMC expects first 450mm fabs to emerge towards “the middle of the decade”, sometime around the year 2015.

"I believe [transition to 450mm wafers] is going to happen, the device manufacturers and governments all have to pitch in and contribute to the effort. People will find a way to invest so that we can deliver 450mm. […] Before the credit crunch, the target [for transition start] was 2012. It has moved out a couple of years, it has pushed out to the middle of this decade,” said  Jack Sun, chief technology officer of TSMC at the International Electronics Forum 2010, reports Electronics Weekly web-site.

Back in mid-2008 Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics and TSMC announced that they had reached agreement on the need for industry-wide collaboration to target a transition to 450mm-sized wafers starting in 2012. The companies planned to cooperate with the semiconductor industry to help ensure that all of the required components, infrastructure and capability were developed and tested for a pilot line by the target date. Still, TSMC stressed already in 2008 that there were no actual plans to build a 450mm fab.

450mm wafer foundries are projected to cost much more than conventional 300mm fabs, which cost can already be as high as $4.2 billion. The next-generation semiconductor manufacturing facilities will require new buildings along with new equipment across the industry, hence, the transition if projected to be extremely expensive.

TSMC said that it had taken delivery of a pre-production EUV tool which it will use for research and development. The company is looking at 2013 – 2014 for production on EUV.

There are doubts that 450mm wafer fabs are actually needed in the foreseeable future. Many companies, including Globalfoundries, are working hard to improve efficiency of manufacturing using 300mm fabs and even TSMC, which plans to establish a new 300mm plant that will cost $3.1 billion this year, is implementing measures to streamline processing of 300mm wafers.

Tags: TSMC, 450mm, Semiconductor

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