Feeds

TSMC joins giant fab race

450 mm wafers in five years, maybe

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Taiwanese contract fab TSMC has become the latest chip-maker to join the 450mm (18 inch) wafer push, announcing a five-year project to put between $US8 billion and $US10 billion into a new chip plant.

The project received government approval on Monday.

Larger wafers are seen as key to future chip fabrication processes. As chips become more complex, more masks are needed during manufacture – making the end result more expensive. By lifting the wafer size from today’s 300mm to 450mm, the fabrication processes happen to more individual devices (roughly double) simultaneously, hopefully improving chip economics.

According to Reuters, TSMC’s chairman Morris Chang says he believes rivals such as Samsung are also working on a 450 mm process. He said he believes technical challenges to the process will take five years to overcome.

Intel is already committed to 450mm processes, with plans for fabs in Arizona and Oregon.

A working 450 mm process would set the industry on course to deliver “trillion-transistor” devices.

The technical challenges for such large wafers arise from both the complexity of the devices themselves, and the material handling challenges. Standardisation efforts for such larger wafers include specifications for warp, surface conditions, edge profile and other characteristics – none of which mattered in the ancient days of 50 mm wafers.

Chip design is also becoming more challenging. In this interview with eeTimes, NVIDIA’s Sameer Halepete says physical design teams for wafers will be strained, demanding a shift to better design tools. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Apple spent just ONE DOLLAR beefing up the latest iPad Air 2
New iPads look a lot like the old one. There's a reason for that
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US
Wearable will deliver 'actionable insights for healthier living'
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
Back to the ... drawing board: 'Hoverboard' will disappoint Marty McFly wannabes
Buzzing board (and some future apps) leave a lot to be desired
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?