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Chip-makers agree on new wafer size


Intel, Samsung and TSMC has agreed on the need for industry-wide collaboration to target a transition to larger, 450mm-sized wafers from 2012. 

The transition to larger wafers will enable continued growth of the semiconductor industry and helps maintain a reasonable cost structure for future integrated circuit manufacturing and applications.
The companies will cooperate with the semiconductor industry to help ensure that all of the required components, infrastructure and capability are developed and tested for a pilot line by this target date.
Historically, manufacturing with larger wafers helps increase the ability to produce semiconductors at a lower cost. The total silicon surface area of a 450mm wafer and the number of printed die (individual computer chips, for example) is more than twice that of a 300mm wafer. The bigger wafers help lower the production cost per chip.
Additionally, through more efficient use of energy, wafer and other resources, bigger wafers can help diminish overall use of resources per chip. For example, the conversion from 200mm wafers to 300mm wafers helped reduce aggregate emissions per chip of air pollution, global warming gases and water, and further reduction is expected with a transition to 450mm wafers.
Intel, Samsung and TSMC indicate that the semiconductor industry can improve its return on investment and substantially reduce 450mm research and development costs by applying aligned standards, rationalising changes from 300mm infrastructure and automation, and working toward a common timeline. The companies also agree that a cooperative approach will help minimize risk and transition costs.