Intel Corp. confirmed that its yet-to-be-built D1X manufacturing facility is constructed to be compatible with equipment that processes large 450mm wafers. Unfortunately, the company yet has to outline concrete plans to transit the fab to 450mm and whether the company is actually looking forward to be the first chipmaker with the next-generation 450mm production facility.
''Intel is very interested in 450mm. D1X is being (contructed) to be compatible with 450mm. [...] I sense that some of the equipment vendors are interested in 450-mm,'' said Mark Bohr, Intel senior fellow and director of process architecture and integration at Intel, reports EETimes web-site.
In fact, only three companies in the industry are working seriously to start manufacturing of chips on 450mm wafers within the next five years: Intel, Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. With only three potential customers, producers of actual equipment are not throwing heavy investments onto development of appropriate equipment. Moreover, a lot of semiconductor manufacturers believe that production facilities that process 450mm wafers are not economically feasible as they are too costly and require maximal utilization, something that is hard to achieve. Intel and its allies argue that 450mm wafers will allow to produce chips at lower cost per chip.
Intel announced in October that D1X will produce chips using 16nm process technology sometime in 2013, but it is also known that by that timeframe no company in the industry actually plans to use 450mm equipment for manufacturing of actual products. As a result, it is clear that Intel will not even try to wed 450mm wafers with 16nm manufacturing process and it is more likely that the company will only utilize appropriate equipment for chips made using 12nm or 10nm nodes.