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080101: 2007 odds and ends
Ed’s Threads 080101
Musings by Ed Korczynski on January 01, 2008

2007 odds and ends
High-k (HK) and metal-gates (MG) for CMOS transistors are real and here now, with Intel deciding on HK-first but MG-last for process integration. What is the temperature limit for MG processing such that the HK remains amorphous in this flow, and how many other elements are alloyed with hafnium and oxygen in the final film? IBM and SEMATECH and most of the rest of the world seem to be working on HKMG-first integration.

IBM in the US has sold 45nm bulk silicon manufacturing technology to SMIC in the P.R. China. I remember being in Shanghai in 1995 when people in China talked about getting 250nm (then “quarter micron”) technology from US companies, and it was then deemed too powerful to let go; now such technology sells for pennies on the ever depreciating dollar. Meanwhile, Intel is reportedly still on schedule to open a 90nm logic fab in China.

Indian semiconductor fab plans seem to lack the political will needed to become real. An anonymous comment left on my prior blog entry about India's plans for its "Fab City" stated, “so far nothing happened. no electrical infrastructure and no water pipes. government is only fooling to promote the nearby real estate ventures.” Informal discussions with Indian expatiates at IEDM last month seem to confirm this perspective. The official Web site for the government now lists "Nano-Tech Silicon India Ltd." (NTSI) as a solar fab to be built -- just seven months ago the government insisted that it would soon be a 20K wafer starts/month IC fab. Despite delays in infrastructure, companies seem willing to try to start-up photovoltaic fab lines in India along with the rest of the world (scroll halfway down the page to see the list of promised PV projects).

With the price of oil nearly at US $100/barrel (less in other currencies), most of the world has decided that solar energy might be worth investing in for a while. Applied Materials continued to acquire its way into OEM dominance, while Oerlikon did a spin-out and acquired a top executive. (I recently talked shop with top PV execs at both AMAT and Oerlikon about their respective strategies.)

Meanwhile, subsystems suppliers like Advanced Energy and Edwards have shifted resources to follow the PV money. Nanosolar printed its first CIGS thin-film PV cells at its new line in San Jose, CA. HelioVolt announced its first fab to produce printed CIGS cells. Dick Swanson of SunPower gave a great presentation at IEDM (Session 14.1) on development of silicon solar cells, showing that manufacturing efficiency increases should cut final installed PV system costs 50% by 2012.

Never trust a semiconductor process engineer who isn't a great cook. It's all about recipes either way, and I've come to the unreasonable conclusion that all good process people like to play in the kitchen too. Baking holiday cookies reminds me of systematic yield losses and design-for-manufacturing (DFM) pattern-centric solutions -- in both cases you need uniform distribution of features across the surface to ensure uniformity. The more narrow the process window, the more you have to control repeatability across the cookie sheet (or silicon wafer).

From the wonderful people at the Annals of Improbable Research we get the yearly Ig Nobel Awards . My personal favorite award for 2007 -- due to love of Toscanini's Ice Cream -- is the award in chemistry given to Mayu Yamamoto of Japan's International Medical Center, for developing a way to extract vanillin from cow dung (REFERENCE: "Novel Production Method for Plant Polyphenol from Livestock Excrement Using Subcritical Water Reaction," Mayu Yamamoto, International Medical Center of Japan.) Moreover, kudos to Toscanini’s for creating a new ice cream flavor and introducing it at the Ig Nobel ceremony, called "Yum-a-Moto Vanilla Twist."

Speaking of twists, 2007 was also another year of consolidation across various equipment/process segments (Lam/SEZ, KLA-Tencor/Therma-Wave/FabSolve, Aixtron/Nanoinstruments, MKS/Yield Dynamics, and TEL/Epion to name just a few). Notable deals happened in the intersection of litho and design (Cadence/Invarium, Blaze/Aprio, and in late 2006 ASML/Brion), as well as test (Teradyne/Nextest, Verigy/Inovys, Rudolph/Applied Precision). Also, private equity had a major presence in the industry, particularly early in the year, in deals for Edwards' vacuum/equipment biz, backend firms STATS ChipPAC, UTAC, and UK dep/etch firm STS. And even AMD looked overseas for much-needed external funds.

One surprising end to 2007 was the Republic of Lakotah formally withdrawing from all treaties with the United States of America, and reclaiming sovereignty as a nation and over its traditional grounds. Maybe someone can build an IC fab there.

After Motorola's advanced fabs became Freescale and then moved R&D to France and then New York, and after Texas Instruments decided to end R&D at 45nm, and after the Silicon Valley Technology Center (Cypress’ former R&D fab) bought the Advanced Technology Development Fab, it’s time to pause for a moment of silence. SEMATECH in Texas is dead; long live SEMATECH in New York!

— E.K.

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070511: India scripts future for Fab City
Ed’s Threads 070511
Musings by Ed Korczynski on May 11, 2007

India scripts future for Fab City
As I recently wrote in this blog space (see “Turn-key fabs for India”, April 6, 2007), India may soon be joining the world of “fab-ulous” nations. On May 10, “Dr. YSR” Reddy, Chief Minister of the government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP), and a delegation of IT ministers and advisors were in Silicon Valley to meet the actor governor of California,
and also to promote their state as a place for high-tech investment. Andhra Pradesh (AP) claims an information technology (IT) growth rate of 50%-55%, the lowest electricity cost in India, and good water resources.

In particular, Hyderabad boasts of a new international airport to be operational by March 2008, an eight-lane outer-ring road and a metro-rail transport system also being built. “With our resources—which are better than many states in the country—we will support the first fabs in India.” said Reddy. “We want to make the infrastructure world-class, and this is being worked out now.”

Dr. C.S. Rao, IT advisor for GoAP, provided additional details of the infrastructure priorities. AP has been very successful in pharmaceutical manufacturing, so there is confidence in the same result for semiconductor manufacturing. “GoAP believes strongly that chip manufacturing in AP will generate hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in AP, and this is one of the reasons it is a very high priority for us,” informed Rao. “These are very exciting times for AP to get in on the ground floor of this opportunity and become a leader in India.”

A semiconductor fab requires uninterrupted electricity and water to properly function, and the GoAP understands that supply of these resources will be critical. “GoAP is simultaneously prioritizing the rural sector and the manufacturing sector in AP,” explained Rao. “Therefore the best way to meet these priorities is not sacrifice one for the other but instead have enough supply of water, power, land, etc. so that these priorities can be met simultaneously.”GoAP has issued orders that 10% of water in all irrigation projects in the State should be reserved for industrial uses, but there are many active and developing industries in addition to the Fab city project in Maheswaram in Ranga Reddy. A short list includes: two IT parks, one IT Special Economic Zone (SEZ), one hardware SEZ, one IT industrial park, and a gems and jewelry park.

Despite conflicting requirements for basic resources, the government seems to have set proper priorities to establish semiconductor fabs. GoAP has already committed to installing by the end of this year a pipeline capable of carrying dedicated capacity of 20 million gallons of water/day for multiple fabs and other manufacturing in Fab City. "This pipeline is already started to be laid out and will be done,” said Rao. “There is no conflict here.”

Regarding the electric power, up to 200 MW of power is being made available for Fab City with two different grid lines. “Again, the commitment by the government of Andhra Pradesh is total and comprehensive,” said Rao, noting that the government of AP will be minor partners in projects spanning the 1200 acres of Fab City. Though 200 MW is a great amount of power, it will be easily consumed by a handful of fabs and supporting businesses.

A typical 200mm fab with 20,000 wafer starts/month (WSPM) fab consumes ~130 kWh/yr of electricity, according to a World Wide Fab Energy Survey Report published by International SEMATECH (Technology Transfer # 99023669B-ENG, June 30, 1999). Assuming steady consumption, average 200mm fabs thus need ~17 MW of electricity to run. Applying the 1.5x rule for 300mm tool scaling, most 300mm fabs would consume (1.5 x 17) ~25 MW for 20,000 WSPM; however, since most 300mm fabs are scaled to >30,000 WSPM their typical power needs scale proportionally to >38 MW continuous power.

It looks like the first commercial chip-making facility in FabCity will be a SEMindia test and assembly line (i.e., “die-based final manufacturing”) supposedly breaking ground within weeks. Test and assembly lines typically don’t consume nearly as much power and water as IC fabs (i.e., “wafer-based manufacturing”) and they are really quite different manufacturing environments, though still part of the “chip-making ecosystem.” SEMindia still plans to eventually startup an IC fab in Fab City, but a start date is currently tentative since partner AMD has slowed capex spending.

The first IC fab in Fab City is supposedly again going to be that of Nano-Tech Silicon India Ltd. (NTSI), a start-up led by South Korean businessman/technologist Dr. Jun Min. NTSI has been trying to close financing for at least two years, and though the company had at one point claimed Intel Capital was an investor, as of today no official relationship seems to exist between the two. Rao told WaferNEWS that Min is “doubly confidant that he will be able to have financial closures with prospective investors in the next 90 days” -- but the basic structure of the project has been scaled down, with phase1 capacity plan reduced from 30,000 WSPM to 20,000 WSPM. An entire used 200mm tool set can be acquired for <$50 million these days, so maybe the NTSI project will now finally move forward.

Many details remain to be resolved with specific projects, but at least the government seems to have a clear policy of support for fabs, and it now seems to be a race to first silicon. Will NTSI get its financing together in time? Will HSMC and Infineon get its turn-key fab up and running first? Will SEMindia and AMD find money for a fab? One way or the other, it now looks like Fab City in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh should be producing ICs on silicon wafers within two years.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

so far nothing happened. no electrical infrastructure and no water pipes. government is only fooling to promote the nerby real estate ventures.

Fri Nov 09, 06:52:00 PM PST  

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070406: Turn-key fabs for India
Ed’s Threads 070406
Musings by Ed Korczynski on April 06, 2007

Turn-key fabs for India
The tide has turned, and it looks like India will finally be joining the club of fab-ed nations. Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (HSMC) has partnered with Infineon to build at least two fabs in Hyerdabad, with first silicon planned for 2009. The first 200mm fab will run 130nm CMOS processes and cost ~$1 billion, and the second 300mm fab will cost US$3.2-$3.5 billion. Infineon will also license its design libraries for ICs targeting mobile phones, ID cards, and automotives.

Infineon touts its record of going from cornerstone of the fab to first-wafer-out in under one year in Malaysia, so it has set a clear precedent for successful greenfield fabs in previously undeveloped regions. However, with several other previously proposed Indian fabs abandoned, many analysts currently doubt the likelihood of success of HSMC. TI recently said no to building a fab in India, and Intel, though courted by India, chose China for a new 90nm logic fab. Many analysts site “infrastructure” issues as the primary obstacles for fabs in India, contrasted to Intel’s choice of China as a more viable region today.

In comparing India to China in this regard, I take a longer term perspective and see that India may be today where China was just 10 years ago. When the PRC started Project 909 in 1997 as part of their 9th five-year-plan, it was the first 200mm submicron fab in the country, and many people questioned whether it could succeed given the perceived problems with the infrastructure. In particular, Shanghai has had electrical power supply problems with black-outs and brown-outs common for the last decade as it grew factories at a frantic pace. Yet the government understood that power loss to a fab causes greater problems than simple downtime, and it set the priority that semiconductor fabs will always get power.

All you really need to keep a fab running is a road to an international airport, water, electricity, and mostly clean air (and the outside air has to be seriously bad to make a difference—i.e., the 1997 massive forest fires in Indonesia that messed up fabs in Singapore). If a government is motivated to set priorities, then it can all be established in a year or two.

For example, the original Motorola MOS-17 fab, now owned and operated by SMIC, was built in Tianjin, China, which is separated from the international airport in Beijing by a mountain pass regularly closed by snowfall in the winter. With priority snowplows, the road closes for at most one or two days to keep supplies running. Similarly, water can be prioritized, and newer fabs can be run with more efficient reduce/reuse/recycle strategies to minimize consumption. The competition between industry, agriculture, and people for water rights remains a very politically sensitive issue, but if there’s the will there’s the way.

Incidentally, the very ground upon which the fab is built doesn’t even have to be that stable. SMIC and GSMC had to spend an extra few months and rumored hundreds of million of dollars to drive special “resistance” foundation pylons more than 100 feet deep into the marshy land of PuDong (similar to the building of the world-famous and still productive Ford Motor Company Rouge Plant over 2000 acres of “bottomland” in Dearborn, Michigan).

SEMindia has lobbied the government to provide the infrastructure needed. Hyderabad is building a new international airport—not coincidentally near Fab City, along with freeways, new power-generation, and water has been set aside. So it all seems rather do-able—if Indian leaders make it a priority.

Unfortunately, a prominent politician has reportedly dampened some fab plans by insisting that there is limited room in Hyerdabad for only 3-4 fabs instead of the 10 ultimately proposed by HSMC. It is difficult to interpret this as encouraging, though it may reflect the government’s reasonable assessment of the near-term limits to how much they can stretch the infrastructure. There are already two other fabs in the works.

SEMindia partnered with AMD to build a wafer fab that is still planned, while they have already started on a scaled down $250 million assembly and test plant. Nano-Tech Silicon India (NTSI)—a fab set up with used 200mm tools and led by a South Korean businessman—is supposed to see first silicon out this year.

SiliconIndia is a network of “non-resident Indian” (NRI) talent that may return to help launch fabs. Let’s see what happens, but I predict ultimate success for Fab City and semiconductor manufacturing in India.

— E.K.

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Blogger Radhakrishnan said...

The plan to have wafer fabs in any of the cities in India will still remain as a wish, till the policies of the Government and the mind set of the bureaucrats and politicians change. It can be made possible only by building an entire city with airport, water, power facilities, etc exclusively for fab and not distracted by the bureaucrats and politicians. In China it was possible, beacuse if the Govt decides it can be done there. But India is one of the examples of democracies with too much freedom so that no result can emerge.

M.K. Radhakrishnan / NanoRel

Thu Apr 12, 03:16:00 AM PDT  
Blogger vsc said...

India can emerge as a destination of the semiconductor industry, provided govt. understand that thousand of indian engineers working in foreign lands want to come back and wish to contibute in the GDP of india. It should be started as soon as possible.
An engineer working in semiconductor industry.

Sat Apr 14, 02:18:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a test post

Tue Apr 17, 01:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger ArunS said...

In Hyderabad, AP near to the International AirPort, the FAB city is proposed; But the main opposition led by ChandraBabu, creating a hell lot of nuisance to stop the progress in the Congress led Govt, so that he can come to power next time.
I really pity on that Guy Chandra Babu, that people are not that fools & they can observe his Gymmics/Dramas & give proper response in the next elections.
He is like a "Saindhavudu" in Bharatam to obstuct the development in AP in the Congress Govt Tenture.

Wed Apr 25, 03:40:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Venkatram said...

Time is the key!!!
making news and having photo opps is nice ....better have a ombudsman to follow thru and make it happen in a very tight time frame

Thu Jun 14, 11:05:00 PM PDT  

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Ed's Threads is the weekly web-log of SST Sr. Technical Editor Ed Korczynski's musings on the topics of semiconductor manufacturing technology and business. Ed received a degree in materials science and engineering from MIT in 1984, and after process development and integration work in fabs, he held applications, marketing, and business development roles at OEMs. Ed won editorial awards from ASBPE, including interviews with Gordon Moore and Jim Morgan, and is not lacking for opinions.