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Staggering investment costs might delay new wafer technology

by on17 May 2011

Not worth the effort just yet
High investment costs could push back upcoming transitions to new wafer manufacturing technology.

According to Heinz Kundert, president of European chip industry association SEMI Europe, plans to shift to 450mm wafers are not progressing well.

“There is no fab available for 450,” said Kundert. He believes there is still time to speed up the transition, if Intel keeps pushing it, TSMC and Samsung should jump on board.

The main issue facing chimpakers is not technology, but basic economics. Kundert estimates the cost of setting up a 450mm plant between $8 and $10 billion. However, chipmakers are not too keen on the new technology, as it will take them too long to recoup their investments. They would rather milk the existing 300mm technology dry before shifting to 450mm wafers.

Plans to embrace 450mm wafers by 2012 seem to be facing significant resistance and if the plans are postponed for 2015 or 2016, they could have a significant impact on the industry.

More here.

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