Global Foundries wants firms to delay moving to larger wafers

AMD spinoff Global Foundries has issued a call for the semiconductor industry to get the most out of 300mm silicon wafers before jumping to 450mm.

The bigger the silicon wafer, the more chips you can print on the wafer. The smaller the process technology, the smaller the dies you can print on the bigger wafer.

Thomas Sonderman, the VP of manufacturing systems and technology at Global Foundries, claimed a rush to the larger size wafer “suggests a lack of ideas for improving fab productivity”.

Why, exactly?

Sonderman said that it is using its expertise in “lean manufacturing” to extend the lifecycle of 300mm wafers. Perhaps more importantly for Global Foundries, it is investing $4 billion in a 300mm fabrication plant in New York State. Fab 2 will begin volume production in 2012 – it’s based in Saratoga County, NY.

The over-cynical might say that the reason Global Foundries is pushing against a trend towards larger wafer sizes is because it doesn’t really have a great deal of choice. The capital investment required to create a 450mm fab and the equipment and tools is probably out of the reach of Global Foundries’ pocket.

Meanwhile, Sonderman said that its move to a 45 nanometer process was the “fastest time to mature yield of any process in its history”.

The over-cynical might say that the reason it had to move so fast is because its competitor, Intel, had already started manufacturing using the 45 nanometer process and is already preparing to move its process to 32 nanometers, later this year.

While production at Global Foundries Fab 2 is slated to begin in 2012, the firm has indicated that it is being designed to support 28/22 nanometre process technology.