Semiconductor fabricator GlobalFoundries has announced a new stage of its race to support 300mm wafer sizes in its manufacturing plants: a move from construction to equipment installation.
For the past year, the company has been constructing brand-new clean rooms in its New York and Dresden facilities, ready to support the 300mm wafer size. It's been a long project, but one which will hopefully start bearing fruit soon with Fab 1 in Dresden pushing manufacturing up to 80,000 wafers per month once the equipment is installed.
The extension at Fab 1 adds more than 110,000 square feet of clean room space to the company's plant, making it the largest wafer fab in Europe capable of dealing with process sizes of 45nm and below.
Fab 8 at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in New York - the company's newest manufacturing facility - wasn't due to enter the equipment-ready stage for another two months, but the company has accelerated its plans following what it claims is 'heavy' customer demand.
While not yet ready to enter production, the facility - once finished in 2012 - will offer around 300,000 square feet of clean room space and be able to push 60,000 wafers a month, most at the 28nm process size and below.
"At GlobalFoundries, we continue to invest aggressively in driving sustained growth on advanced technologies," claimed the company's chief executive Ajit Manocha. "The build-out of our 300mm manufacturing campuses in New York and Dresden is supporting growing customer demand for advanced technologies, while creating hundreds of jobs and providing a significant boost to the economies in the surrounding regions. By completing these massive construction projects on schedule and on budget, we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to being the only truly global foundry."
Once the equipment is in place, the facilities will be able to support the manufacturing of semiconductors on 300mm wafer sizes. Offering more surface area than the traditional 200mm wafers, a 300mm facility can produce chips at a faster rate and lower cost while dropping energy and water usage by up to 40 per cent.
GlobalFoundries isn't the only company looking to boost wafer size, however. Intel has invested billions of dollars into upgrading its own facilities to 300mm, and rival TSMC has announced plans to join. Many fabs see the move to 300mm as an important step to sub-20nm process sizes, as the increased wafer size helps defray losses from lowered yields.
Some manufacturers are also looking to 450mm wafer sizes, which further increase the number of usable chips created in each batch while lowering the cost per chip.
Sadly, given the time it's taken to move to 300mm, a 450mm future looks disappointingly distant.