Archive for the ‘ Foundry&IDM ’ Category

TSMC to make FinFETs in 450-mm fab

TSMC to make FinFETs in 450-mm fab.

At the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference here, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) outlined more details about its 450-mm fab plans. SAN JOSE, Calif. – At the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference here, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) outlined more details about its 450-mm fab plans.

The silicon foundry giant hopes to process 14-nm FinFET devices in full production on 450-mm wafers by 2015 or 2016, said Shang-Yi Chiang, senior vice president of R&D at TSMC.

As reported, Intel, Samsung and TSMC are pushing hard for 450-mm fabs. Intel has already announced two ”450-mm ready’’ fabs. The fab tool vendors are warming up to 450-mm development, but most are still behind schedule with the technology. Some believe that 450-mm will cause confusion in the supply chain.

Recently, TSMC said it plans to install its first 450-mm line in Taiwan by 2013 to 2014.  It will process wafers at the 20-nm node on 450-mm substrates. Many of the details were not disclosed when TSMC made that initial announcement.

In an interview at SPIE after his keynote, Chiang elaborated on those plans. Initially, TSMC hopes to install a 450-mm pilot line in Fab 12 in Hsinchu, Taiwan. The line will process wafers at the 20-nm node. It hopes to get the pilot line up and running by 2013 to 2014.

Then, TSMC plans to bring up its first 450-mm production fab in Taichung, Taiwan, which will process devices at the 14-nm node. The Taichung plant is called Fab 15.

At 14-nm, TSMC plans to make a switch in transistor structures. At the 20-nm node and above, TSMC will continue to use traditional planar transistors based on bulk CMOS. At 14-nm, the company plans to make the switch from bulk CMOS to FinFET structures, he said.

So, the company will produce 14-nm FinFETs in production in Fab 15. Production is slated for 2015 to 2016.

The TSMC technologist said 450-mm wafers enable a 2.25- to 2.40-fold productivity gain over 300-mm wafers. But he acknowledged there are several challenges with 450-mm, namely to get the equipment vendors on board.

At one time, most fab tool vendors were reluctant to invest in 450-mm. Many believe it is too expensive and there is little or no return-on-investment.

Now, fab tool vendors are warming up to the idea for several reasons. First, Sematech, which is leading the charge in 450-mm, is providing some funding for fab tool vendors in 450-mm. Second, the world’s largest chip makers are pushing hard for 450-mm and fab tool vendors don’t want to lose out on some business.

Chiang in a question and answer session said that ”the government would pay for half of the cost’’ of 450-mm tool R&D, but he did not elaborate.

”We see a bit more willingness on the part of equipment makers’’ to embrace 450-mm, said C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in a recent report. ”We then think by 2016-2018, we will see adoption of 450-mm.’’

Lam Research Corp. is reportedly beginning to invest in 450-mm. Other fab tool vendors are also quietly developing tools, but 450-mm won’t be cheap.


Drop in the (450-mm) bucket
It could cost about $12 billion in R&D investments for 450-mm, Muse said. ”The move to 300-mm was very much more expensive than the prior wafer transitions. While estimates from VLSI/Sematech suggest the 125-mm transition cost only ~$250-300 million and the 150-mm transition ~$700 million, the 300mm cost ~$12 billion,’’ he said.

”It is assumed that the 450-mm transition will not be cheap, and clearly equipment companies are reluctant to pay the full tab. We will likely see a chicken and egg game, but we do expect chipmakers to help support the tool development efforts with equipment companies, at the same time, sharing some of the higher dollars received in the current golden era of capital intensity,’’ he said.

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Apple reportedly to hand processor orders to TSMC

Apple is reportedly looking to outsource the production of its A4 processor as well as the next-generation ARM Cortex-A9-based A5 processor to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), according to industry sources. The Apple A4 processor is currently exclusively produced by Samsung Electronics, and the previous S5PC100 used in the iPhone 3GS was also developed and manufactured by the Korean company.

TSMC declined to comment on the report.

With Samsung now competing directly with Apple with its own smartphones and tablet PC, Apple is reportedly concerned about leakage of its processor technology to a major rival in the end-use market.

In fact, Apple already began handling some A4 orders to TSMC in 2010 when Samsung’s capacity was unable to fulfill strong demand of Apple devices, the sources said, adding that the move at the time was perhaps to test TSMC’s capability.

According to Digitimes Research, the iPad 2 will support an enhanced version of the A4 and the A5 will power the iPhone 5. TSMC will initially produce the improved A4, and could likely become the exclusive manufacturer of the A5.

via Apple reportedly to hand processor orders to TSMC.

Five IC makers join $3B ‘capex club’

Five IC makers join $3B ‘capex club’.

Semiconductor capital spending is expected to hit $59.070 billion in 2011, up 15 percent over 2010, according to IC Insights Inc. SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Semiconductor capital spending is expected to hit $59.070 billion in 2011, up 15 percent over 2010, according to IC Insights Inc.

The forecasted 2011 top 25 semiconductor capital spenders are shown below. ”There are five companies that are expected to spend at least $3.0 billion in 2011, the same number as in 2010 and three more than in 2009,” according to IC Insights.

The members of the $3 billion ”capex club” are Samsung, Intel, TSMC, Globalfoundries and Hynix,” according to the firm.

“Five of the top 10 increases are expected to come from major DRAM and flash memory suppliers. However, the top increase in 2011 is forecast to come from Intel, a massive $3.8 billion surge,” according to the firm.

10 semiconductor themes for 2011

10 semiconductor themes for 2011.

What’s in store for 2011? Gus Richard, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, has provided his 10 predictions-or themes-for 2011 (and beyond). SAN JOSE, Calif. – What’s in store for 2011? Gus Richard, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, has listed his 10  themes for ICs in 2011 (and beyond):

1. The Fourth Wave of Computing

”In our view, the era of the mobile Internet, thin client or ultra mobile computer is upon us. It is the 4th wave of computing. In our view, in the 4th wave, the critical capability is not the processor capability, but rather connectivity or bandwidth as well as very low power. The iPad, iPhone, and Android operating system are all early winners in this new era, leading the 4th wave.”

2. ASIC to PLD Conversion

”ASICs and ASSPs are being replaced by programmable logic devices, PLDs. With each successive node the cost of a design goes up. The cost of a 45-nm SOC chip design is estimated to be roughly $80 million and a 32-nm SOC is $130 million. We estimate that the addressable market of these chips needs to be roughly $400 million and $650 million to make a reasonable return assuming a 50 percent gross margin.”

3. The Super Cycle and Increased Capital Intensity

”Over the last 10 to 15 years more and more companies have gone fabless or fab lite as fewer and fewer companies have been able to afford the cost of a leading edge 300-mm manufacturing plant. The question is who is going to pay for the increasing capital intensity. Clearly the dominant manufacturers are going to be spending including: Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, TSMC and Global Foundries.

While we haven’t heard of any discussions, we think it is only a matter of time before companies like TSMC and UMC start asking customers to share the burden. We think this will be the source of capital that takes capital intensity back to a cycle high in the mid 20 percent range.”

4. Lithography’s Increasing Share of Wallet

”Lithography is increasing as a percentage of fab spending. The last generation ASML lithography system, the XT 193-nm immersion, cost 30 million euros; the current generation, NXT, cost 40 million euros. The EUV systems are also more expensive than 193-nm immersion tools. The pre-production tools shipping today cost 42 million euros and production tools due to ship in late 2011 will cost 65 to 70 million euros.”

5. The Low Down on the Slow Down of Moore’s Law

”There are only three ways to increase the output of a fab. The first is to scale (shrink) the size of the transistor and other structures on a chip (Moore’s Law), the second is to move to a larger diameter wafer and the third is increased the number of wafers processed. For all but Intel and Samsung, Moore’s Law is slowing and the transition to next generation process technology is grinding to a halt.”

6. Increasing Levels of Innovation and Killer Applications

”There is now increasing visibility into new drivers of semiconductor demand. It has been a long time since the semiconductor industry benefited from a killer app that could move the needle in terms of growth. We think there are several demand drivers now occurring. These include: the 4th wave of computing or the ultra mobile era dominated by smart phones and tablets, the second is the proliferation of internet connectivity to an increasing array of devices (ubiquitous connectivity, Ubiquinet as mere ‘internet’ is no longer appropriate), the need to upgrade the communication infrastructure to support an increasing plethora of devices, the increased use of video over IP and the need to support the mobile internet. We believe these trends are driving an upgrade cycle for electronics as well as increasing semiconductor content in existing devices and a crop of new devices.”

7. Increased Investment in Communication Infrastructure

”We are seeing a shift to data from voice in mobile phones, increased delivery of video over the internet IP and the emergence of cloud computing. This is driving a need for infrastructure upgrades.”

8. Home Networking

”Bandwidth to the home is increasing at a rate of 40 percent per year. Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is a significant driver of this growth in developed economies and video over IP is driving the growth of FTTH. The need to support HD video on an increasing number of devices and more connected devices in the home are driving home networking. The solutions will be both WiFi and networks over existing wires, in our view.”

9. LED Lighting

”The growth of LED lighting is being driven by increasing global regulation banning the incandescent bulb, which should accelerate over the next 2 years. Currently the EU prohibits the sale of 75W and 100W bulbs and moves to an outright ban on all incandescent bulbs by Dec 2012. The US begins a similar tiered restriction beginning in 2012 with the 100W bulb and all bulbs banned by 2014. While initially much of the incandescent bulb replacement will be CCFL we think over time LED will be the solution of choice as they provide a better quality light and the cost comes down as volumes increase. We estimate that the number of general purpose light bulbs has been doubling every year to an estimated 200 million this year and 400 million units next year.”

10. The Analog Bifurcation and Over Investment

”During the lost decade of the 00s, the analog semiconductor market saw renewed interest and likely too much investment. While analog is rich with niche market opportunities, we think it will be harder for companies in the analog market going forward. In analog like other chip markets, gross margin is inversely proportional to volume. That is to say the higher the volume the lower the gross margin and the lower the volume the higher the gross margin.

Moreover, we would expect TI to use its new 300mm fab to drive market share in very higher volume standard analog markets as well. While not all analog companies will be impacted, those whose products and business models overlap with TI will come under pressure.”

Analyst: Intel to break ARM

Analyst: Intel to break ARM.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – ARM Holdings plc and Intel Corp. are on a collision course.

ARM’s technology has dominated the mobile processor business. Intel has a near monopoly on the traditional PC and server markets. 

Now, ARM and its partners—Marvell, Nvidia and others-want a piece of the traditional computer segments. And Intel is looking to make inroads in the mobile, tablet PC and related segments dominated by ARM.

The winner? Intel, according to one analyst. But clearly, the chip giant faces some major challenges, as it did not have the ”best of CESs (Consumer Electronic Show), which is remarkable given that the company may very well have launched the most powerful CPU family in decades:  Sandy Bridge,” said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst with Raymond James & Associates Inc., in a report.

”The issue of course for Intel is that CES 2011 is all about Android, tablets, and smartphones, which the Street tends to not associate with Intel. Oh, and that punch-in-the-gut commentary by Microsoft that its next generation Windows O/S will support ARM processors in addition to x86,’’ he said.

”First, there is no way around this. The fact that consumers can buy a Windows-based notebook a couple years down the road based on an Intel or AMD x86, or a TI or Nvidia ARM SoC is just not good news on its own despite our view that x86 will easily outperform an ARM core,’’ he said.

”On this note, the bottom line is can Intel penetrate the tablet/smartphone market enough to offset ARM encroachment in its mainstream notebook domain? Our view is yes in the mid-term as the company has a good head start: Android tablets/smartphones based on x86 in 2011 will easily sport double-digit performance advantages over ARM solutions running Android inasmuch as that is the metric of choice,’’ he said. 

”Also, look for Intel to have a cost advantage veres ARM SoCs (System on a Chip) given the company’s one to two node process advantage,’’ he added. ”Longer term, Intel has its challenges and 2011 will go a long way in helping to answer if Intel is up to the task.’

ATIC takes control of GlobalFoundries

ATIC takes control of GlobalFoundries.

As part of a new and complex transaction, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has reduced its stake in GlobalFoundries Inc. from about 30 percent to 14 percent. SAN JOSE, Calif. – As part of a new and complex transaction, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) has reduced its stake in GlobalFoundries Inc. from about 30 percent to 14 percent.

In the deal, Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC) now owns 86 percent of GlobalFoundries, a U.S.-based silicon foundry vendor. Previously, ATIC owned 70 percent. The ATIC is a specialist investment company created by the Government of Abu Dhabi to focus on investments in the advanced technology sector. ATIC’s sole shareholder is the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

In 2009, the chip-manufacturing arm from AMD was spun off into a new foundry company. The foundry spinoff, GlobalFoundries, had been a joint venture between AMD and Abu Dhabi’s ATIC. At the time, AMD moved to become a fabless chip maker.

ATIC had planned to boost its stake in GlobalFoundries from about 68 percent to 70 percent. Over time, ATIC is supposed to take the entire stake in GlobalFoundries from AMD. In September, ATIC agreed to acquire Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. for a total of $3.9 billion. Chartered has been folded into GlobalFoundries.

Then, on Dec. 27, 2010, ATIC said that it contributed all of the outstanding ordinary shares of GlobalFoundries Singapore Pte. Ltd., a private limited company organized in Singapore (formerly Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd.) to Globalfoundries Inc., in exchange for 2,808,981 newly issued shares of GF Class A Preferred Shares.

As of the closing of the contribution, AMD’s ownership of GlobalFoundries is now approximately 14 percent. AMD’s processors are made on a foundry basis by  GlobalFoundries. Some of AMD’s chips are made by TSMC and others. By reducing its stake in GlobalFoundries, AMD is free to expand its ties with TSMC and others.

Despite a sudden and disturbing lull in the IC market, GlobalFoundries is moving full speed ahead with its aggressive silicon foundry strategy. As part of those efforts, the company recently disclosed plans to devise a 20-nm process and rolled out a new, high-end 28-nm offering. It also announced an intellectual property (IP) deal with ARM Holdings plc and said it is developing technology to enable 3-D chips based on through-silicon-vias (TSVs).

ATMC plans to spend up to $7 billion to build a semiconductor fab in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates,

Toshibas logic unit goes fab lite

Toshibas logic unit goes fab lite.

Toshiba Corp.’s logic IC unit is going fab lite. SAN JOSE, Calif. – Toshiba Corp.’s logic IC unit is going fab lite.

The company’s so-called Logic LSI Division will expand its outsourcing of cutting-edge products, including 40-nm chips, to multiple foundries from fiscal year 2011, according to Toshiba. This has been in the works for some time.

As part of the strategy for transforming its system LSI business and ”securing an asset light business model,” Toshiba has signed a memorandum of understanding with Sony Corp., expressing the intent to dissolve Nagasaki Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (NSM) and to transfer 300-mm wafer fabrication lines
there from Toshiba to Sony. The move was expected.

Toshiba will continue to keep and maintain its NAND flash fabs. There appears to be no change on that front.

However, Toshiba is implementing a series of measures to transform its System LSI  business, with the goal of boosting profitability by allocating resources to focus product areas. Towards this, the company will restructure its current System LSI Division on Jan. 1, 2011.

In other words, it will go fab lite or asset lite on the logic front. Other Japanese chip makers-including Fujitsu, Renesas, and, to some degree, Elpida-have moved in a similar chip outsourcing direction for good reason: It is simply too expensive to have and maintain a leading-edge fab. And they are embracing foundries after years’ of avoiding them.

Toshiba’s non-memory unit will will be reorganized into two parts: the Logic LSI Division, responsible for cutting-edge SoC (system-on-chip) fabricated on 300-mm wafer fabrication lines; and the Analog and Imaging IC Division, which supplies key components for a wide range of products.

The Analog and Imaging IC Division will concentrate on analog ICs and imaging ICs, particularly CMOS image sensors, and use existing production lines at Oita Operations, including 300mm wafer lines, and Iwate Toshiba Electronics Co. Ltd. The main focus will be general-purpose products, allowing the division to streamline its production lines.

As part of the plans, the Logic LSI Division will promote a flexible manufacturing strategy responsive to demand volatility by combining use of its own production line with outsourcing.

Meanwhile, as reported this week, Sony plans to re-acquire a semiconductor fab in Nagasaki, Japan, that it sold to Toshiba in 2008. Sony will buy the fab for about $597.2 million in order to double its capacity to produce CMOS sensors. The acquisition will double Sony’s image sensor output to about 40,000 wafers per month, according to the report.

Sony transferred its Fab 2 in Nagasaki to Toshiba in March 2008 as part of a complex $835 million deal between the two companies that included the establishment of a joint venture.

NSM, which was established in March 2008 and is located in the Nagasaki Technology Center of Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corp. (SCK), has been manufacturing the “Cell Broadband Engine™” processor, the graphics engine “RSX” and other high-performance semiconductors and leading-edge SoCs.

Toshiba and Sony aim to execute definitive agreements as soon as possible before the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011. Thereafter, Toshiba and Sony aim to complete the transfer early in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, subject to any necessary government approvals.