Chip firms set up working committee

By Alfred Lee, The China Post

Semiconductor equipment makers and device manufacturers have agreed to set up a working committee to discuss the development schedule of new semiconductor equipment, said S.Y. Chiang, R&D Senior Vice President of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. (TSMC). This is the consensus reached at the International SEMATECH’s Industry Executive Forum (IEF) which closed in Hsinchu yesterday. The IEF is the equivalent of the summit conference of semiconductor equipment and device manufacturers. This is the first time the IEF conference has been held in Taiwan. At the meeting, the semiconductor chip manufacturers expected equipment suppliers to shorten the development time to two to three years from the current four years. The earlier a semiconductor chip manufacturer gets new production equipment, the more competitive it is, according to Chiang. The development of a new generation of semiconductor equipment takes large sums of investments and time. If the development time is reduced, it means a shorter life-cycle for semiconductor equipment, a shorter time for the semiconductor equipment manufacturer to recover their development costs, and reduced profits. As a result, semiconductor equipment makers do not favor the idea of reduced development time. Chiang said that it will have taken two to three years to improve from 0.13-micron to 0.10-micron manufacturing process. The 0.10-micron technology is expected to be available by the end of next year or early 2003. Semiconductor device makers hope that by 2005 semiconductor equipment makers can supply 0.07- to 0.05-micron equipment.

More than 50 executives from global device manufacturers and equipment supplier companies focused their talks on the semiconductor equipment suppliers’ proposal for a collaborative interface between suppliers and device makers.

International SEMATECH, founded 1986, is a unique endeavor by 13 semiconductor manufacturing companies from seven countries. Located in Austin, Texas, USA, the consortium strives to be an effective global consortium influencing semiconductor manufacturing technology. The member companies of the consortium include AMD, HP, IBM, Intel, Hynix, and TSMC etc. TSMC is the only member company from Taiwan. International SEMATECH’s decision to hold the IEF on the island shows that Taiwan’s role in the global semiconductor industry is becoming ever more important. Member companies cooperate pre-competitively in key areas of semiconductor technology, sharing expenses and risk. Their common aim is to accelerate development of the advanced manufacturing technologies that will be needed to build tomorrow’s most powerful semiconductors. “We are grateful to TSMC for hosting International SEMATECH’s seventh IEF. It is indeed appropriate that we are meeting in Taiwan as Taiwan’s role in the global semiconductor industry becomes more and more important,” said Mark Melliar-Smith, CEO of International SEMTECH. “TSMC, as a global leading foundry, has made significant contributions to the cooperative efforts to improve semiconductor manufacturing technology.