300mm Semiconductor Wafers get a reprieve

Summary : The industry's transition to 300mm Semiconductor Wafers almost stalled in 1998, when the Asian Financial Crisis hit. Chip companies wanted it but were unwilling to pay for it in a down. So the Semiconductor Industry's leaders came to SEMICON West to make peace with the equipment suppliers.

July 22, 1998: Reprieve from the Guillotine . . .

Last Tuesday, I300I did what SEMATECH does best, it brought the equipment and semiconductor industries back together on 300mm.  I300I and its members actively responded to the growing dissent in the equipment industry for the first time.  One senior equipment industry executive (and no, he is not from Applied Materials) said that they had really listened to their grievances for the first time.  Applied Materials did say that they would remain in I300I after the meeting.  The chip executives I talked to were also pleased with the results.  The chip industry side agreed to examine new ways to finance 300mm and to rethink the testing and timing issues.  While the tension was high when meeting started, it had melted by the end, with executives jokingly throwing barbs at each other about the downturn.  I heard that at one point someone mentioned that it would be a disaster if Applied cut their wrists over 300mm.  To which Rick Hill of Novellus replied, “I don’t know about that, Sass why don’t we both cut our wrists now, you go first,” throwing a razor to Sass Somekh.  Never one to drop a weapon given from a competitor, Sass pocketed the razor, saying, “thank you, I can use this.”  Hopefully, this puts 300mm back on track.


Reader Replies regarding the June 30 and July 9 articles on 300mm . . .

>Your article on the problems with 300mm may have overtly expressed the frustrations some feel, but it was so negative and one-sided that I hope you do a follow-up article that is more balanced.  Most major developments, such as 300mm, are painful and expensive; but, long-term, the pay-offs are there if the industry can stay the course.   With the current economic downturn in the semiconductor industry, continued adjustments will undoubtedly have to be made.   But, if we solely listened to the naysayers everytime we reached obstacles and barriers, we would have simply given up and never developed 200mm wafer capability, 0.25 micron lithography, copper interconnects, and low-k dielectrics.  <

— Someone once said, “you cannot trust someone who does not take sides.”  I thought the view was balanced.  Then again, one man’s level playing field is another’s sheer rock face.  I certainly did not want to blow sunshine at the industry with another ‘300mm’s great’ puff piece.  I was trying to get across the idea that the oil pressure had dropped to zero, the engine was overheating, and that if we did not pull over and fix it, this wonderful vehicle we call Moore’s law would be permanently damaged.  Too much is at risk.  Also, today’s naysayers are not the fringe element of yesteryear.  In fact, they do not even fit the definition of a naysayer.  This industry has never committed so much to such an endeavor.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a previous major development in this industry that was as painful or as expensive.  — Dan


>Dan, Thanks for getting I300I back on track, things are much improved since the summit meeting and its direction is more in tune with the needs of the industry.<


>Dan... hang in there... 300 is pure BS....

You are hearing from the bridge of the Titanic..... after the "impossible" happened...

"This is the Captain speaking.. "We're sinking..... and.... EVERYBODY'S fired!!!!"

Damn... "me thinks they doth protest too much"<


>You're doing a great job. Keep it coming. It may not be the answer to all our problems and it may raise the blood pressure on those not in tune with today's internet-time driven world, but as a minimum it is highly entertaining. Additionally you seem to be pushing the right buttons to facilitate change. What more can we ask?<


>I wanted you to know that I really enjoy reading The Chip Insider.  The ones that I have received have been educational and fun to read.  I never thought that I could learn so much industry news and information from one newsletter.  I also enjoy reading the feedback that you receive from your readers.<


July 23, 1998: From the front lines . . . 

Bridge tools were the hot things at SEMICON/West.  Most equipment companies have begun to design them almost exclusively, while chip companies have started to buy them.  Engineers at semiconductor companies are becoming convinced that it will not only be possible, but will be very cost effective to upgrade 200mm facilities to 300mm.  It also makes a much stronger financial argument than trying to convince management that they should build a new 300mm facility.  It may seem strange, but some equipment is being ordered with the capability to handle both 200mm and 300mm wafers.  This is being done so that 300mm can be developed alongside 200mm development efforts. 

 Some believe that I am against 300mm.  This is not true.  My position is that the industry has missed the 0.25/0.18/0.15 micron window by a country mile and needs to retarget.  The next open window will pace 193nm lithography tools, which will be needed for 0.13/0.10 micron in 2001-04. I am almost certain that if we (as an industry) miss this window, it will be the end of wafer size transitions.  So it is extremely critical that we find a low cost/risk way to do this.  Bridge tools offer an opportunity to do this.

By 2001, we will be in the midst of a strong industry upturn and will need capacity.  At the same time, the industry will still be financially strapped from this recession.  It will need to mix-and-match existing 248nm steppers with its new 193nm tools.  If those tools are not upgradable to 300mm it will be an extreme burden on the chip industry.  The industry will also need to boost capacity for existing generation products while funding the 0.13 micron transition.  Between 1993 and 1995, the industry was able to meet the explosion in demand in part by upgrading its existing 150mm facilities for minimal cost compared to building and equipping new factories.  It will need to do the same again.  It will also need 300mm platforms that have been fully debugged in manufacturing.  The only way to do this and not put an excess burden on the equipment industry will be to start buying bridge tools now.  Their availability will be accelerated if chip companies insist on buying bridge tools.

Bridge tools must meet three criteria: 1) they can be bought to handle either 200 or 300mm wafers with easy upgrades.  2) The combination of throughput and floorspace of a 200mm version of a bridge tool must be such that the total floorspace required for the tools needed to handle a particular process step be less than the total floorspace occupied by the current generation of 200mm tools in a fab.  3) The CoO for a 200mm version of a bridge tool must be such that the total CoO required for the tools needed to handle a particular process step be less than the total CoO for the current generation of 200mm tools in a fab.  I300I could accelerate the process by certifying the tools, which meet these criteria.


Listing of Current Qualifying Bridge Tools:

                                                                            Comparison to Equivalent 200mm Tool   Days for

Company & Model                           Type               Size         Throughput     Availability      a  Field Upgrade                                                  

Applied Materials Producer             PECVD           Smaller       Faster             4Q98                1

ASML Atlas                                  DUV Stepper         ?              Faster             4Q99  

Canon FPA-5000ES2                  DUV Stepper       Same          Equal              4Q98                1

FSI Antares                                  Cleaning          Smaller         30%>               Now

FSI Polaris                                Resist Process      Same          Same              1Q99

KLA-Tencor SurfScan Sp1TBI      Inspection          Same          Same               Now

Watkins-Johnson WJ-3200/3300   HDPCVD           Smaller       Same                 ?

Varian VIISta                              Ion Implanter       Same          Equal              4Q98



By G Dan Hutcheson

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