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By | Kelly Fiveash 6th May 2008 11:44

Intel and chums target 450mm wafer fabs

'It's only a tiny little thin one'

Three of the world’s biggest chip players will cooperate with one another to develop silicon wafers to improve efficiency in semiconductor manufacturing.

Intel said yesterday that a migration from 300mm (12-inch) silicon wafers to 450mm (18-inch) would yield more than double the number of chips per wafer.

The trio hopes to have developed and tested required components, infrastructure and capability by 2012, when it plans to punch out a pilot line of chips based on the 450mm technology.

Intel said that the move, which will need the entire semiconductor industry to broadly agree on the next steps in developing fab plants geared to making chips built on the new wafers, would boost the ability to produce chips at a lower cost.

"Increasing cost due to the complexity of advanced technology is a concern for the future," said TSMC senior vice president Mark Liu. "Intel, Samsung, and TSMC believe the transition to 450mm wafers is a potential solution to maintain a reasonable cost structure for the industry."

The three firms said they planned to cooperate with the whole semiconductor industry on the transition to fabs built to spit out 450mm discs. They will also continue to work with the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) consortium to help establish common standards during the migration.

The last big shift in wafer size came at the beginning of this decade, when Intel led the charge from 200mm to 300mm wafers. It's fair to say that you now get far more transistor for your buck. China's nascent chip industry got a boost as chip makers shifted their no longer bleeding edge, but still useful, 200mm kit to other plants. ®

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