Saturday, January 31, 2009

Old Wafers

The electronics industry is going through a world of hurt. NEC is no exception.

Amid a massive December quarter loss, NEC Corp has stated plans to cut more than 20,000 jobs as it seeks to save $889 million (80 billion yen) over the next two years.
Now here is what really surprised me.
NEC's job cuts and earnings announcements came this morning, one day after NEC Electronics America announced it will close the six-inch wafer fab line at its manufacturing facility in Roseville, Calif, by the end of March 2010. With the action, the Roseville plant will exclusively offer 8-inch wafer production.

The move was not entirely unexpected. The closure is part of a broader decision by NEC Electronics America's parent company NEC to consolidate select six-inch fabrication lines worldwide as it aims to improve global manufacturing efficiency.
Six inches is also called 150 mm in the business. Do you know how old 150 mm technology is? It was introduced in 1981. That is 28 years ago. The 200mm size (8 inch)was introduced in 1990 [pdf] and roughly a doubled the chip output from a production facility given the area increase. That was nineteen years ago. In 2001 the 300 mm size (12 inch) was new. That is eight years ago. So it surprised me that NEC was keeping such an old production equipment running. Normally equipment that old has been donated to a university already.


Larry Sheldon said...

Somewhere in the "museum" down stairs I have a mask for 3-inch wafers, I think. (In my minds eye, I see a 4-inch jewel case, the mask has to have been smaller.)

The mask was a demo of sorts made by a company (whose name I don't remember) whose plasma-deposition chamber I worked on which was driven by what some would mistake for a Henry Radio amatuer transmitter. I might still have some of the 3CX1000's it used.

The mask originally had chip-sized reproductions of a Playboy Magazine photograph--tells you something about how long ago that was--they would go to jail for that now.

I suspect the actually pictures mask is gone off the glass--the mask was only a few atoms thick and the gold has surely all evaporated by now.

He sold all that gear to National Semiconductor--I think they are no gone, aren't they?

M. Simon said...

National Semiconductor is still around.