Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has re-emphasized importance of 450mm manufacturing and said that larger wafers as well as extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography are crucial for economically viable manufacturing at 7nm or even 10nm nodes. The firm has acquired land to build a center that will explore 7nm technology and test 450mm production.
“The EUV lithography and 450mm are important to us at 10nm and beyond. […] EUV, I think, is the only economic way of doing, I will not say 10nm, but surely it will be the only economic way of doing 7nm. Even at 10nm, if we have a high-throughput EUV, our costs will be in better shape. Of course, we can use double patterning, triple patterning, quadruple patterning, but those we would like to avoid. Avoiding them depends on [ASML’s success] with their high-throughput EUV,” said Morris Chang, chief executive officer and chairman of TSMC.
Currently available ASML’s six pre-production NXE:3100 EUV systems can produce up to 7 wafers per hour with 11W light source. ASML and Cymer jointly made significant progress during the summer and have now proven in laboratories a sustained 30W source exposure power potential, which would enable the NXE:3300B to expose 18 wafers per hour. ASML’s specified target remains at 105W or 69 wafers per hour (wph), to be achieved for 2014 microchip production.
TSMC expects to begin running pilot 450mm lines in 2016 or 2017. TSMC's roadmap for transition to 450mm had been reportedly completed and the company intends to start making commercial chips on 450mm wafers sometimes in 2018. Since TSMC aims to start making chips using 10nm FinFET manufacturing technology in 2016, the first commercial chips to be made on 450mm wafers will either be produced using mature 10nm process, or leading-edge 7nm manufacturing technology.
“450mm [wafer transition] is going to be another impulse on cost reduction. I think that 450mm will cut in at the 7nm. It may cut in earlier. I think Intel is talking about cutting in at 10nm, but my feeling is that it will cut in at 7nm,” stressed Mr. Chang.
Recently TSMC acquired land in Chunan, Taiwan, where it is going to build a special research and development facility to test production of chips using 7nm manufacturing process on 450mm wafers.
“We have purchased 14 hectares of land in Chunan. It is about 20 minutes of driving from the Science Park in Hsinchu, so it is really very nearby. The reason it has to be nearby is that we are using the land for our new advanced R&D fab. That R&D fab is going to be for 450mm and 7nm development,” explained the head of TSMC.