The 2024 3D InCites Yearbook

The Role of 200mm Manufacturing in Enabling a $1 Trillion Semiconductor Industry By Abdul Lateef, CEO, Plasma-Therm

its new headquarters building. Brewer Science purchases enough wind energy credits to cover all the energy consumption at its US facilities. The company’s electricity consumption has remained constant despite growth. Namics and Brewer Science are among the materials suppliers reporting on GHG emissions, energy consumption, and water and waste management. We need more data, along with concerted efforts to promote science-based targets, from every supplier in the industry. The Path Forward Increasing energy efficiency and transitioning to renewables are the easiest levers to pull and will make the quickest difference. We also need to invest in changes in materials and processes. The journey will take years or perhaps decades. There are ways to accelerate it. That includes supporting promising startups that are innovating in areas like waste recovery, new materials, and energy efficiency. De-coupling economic growth from energy and resource consumption is something our industry will need to embrace. That’s not easy, especially when faced with materiality assessments that show environmental issues lagging behind economic concerns. That can make GHG emissions reductions and better waste management not feel like immediate priorities. Unless customers care deeply enough about their vendors’ and suppliers’ sustainability records, change is likely not to happen fast enough. A few companies are being proactive and sharing their progress. Here’s to hoping that more join in.

proportion of gases still escape. The path forward to eliminate the worst-offending gases is not clear. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. Most GHG emissions associated with our industry’s products happen during use. We cannot directly influence how end users power their computers, data centers, or automobiles. But we can design semiconductor chips and packages to be as energy- efficient as possible. We can also support improvements in renewable energy in the countries where our facilities operate. That may come from purchasing credits or investing in building renewable power infrastructure. One point from the SEMI report that people might have overlooked is the call for advocacy. Manufacturers, especially in Asian countries where renewable energy is limited but also elsewhere, should advocate for expanding low-carbon electricity options. If the demand is there, the supply is more likely to follow. Smaller Companies Making Progress The actions of smaller companies—those with fewer than 1000 employees—don’t always make headlines. Our industry needs these companies, many of which make materials and components that contribute to the Scope 3 emissions of the prominent industry leaders, to step up. Fortunately, some are moving sustainability further up the list of priorities. Namics, for example, is investing in solar farms in Japan and plans to build a solar canopy over the parking lot at

Another hurdle that non-300mm manufacturing can help to mitigate is capacity overinvestment. For years, the global semiconductor industry overinvested first in LED capacity; and then in RF devices. The most recent example is GaAs for RF applications. GaAs fabs are running at a 30-35% utilization rate – primarily because, for every successful GaAs device maker, another three to four fabs have been established, creating overcapacity. The next technology where this could happen again is SiC – the current investment volumes may lead to oversupply in the next few years. The key takeaway is that investment needs to be more strategic and less reactive. If everyone continues overspending and wasting resources while trying to get to $1 trillion, it becomes a bigger hurdle. More collaboration in strategic planning would help conquer this challenge – multiple companies coming together to agree on who invests in what over the longer term. This is a tall order, certainly, but it may become a must- do if we are to break the cycle of overspending/oversupply.

The “and below” of “200mm and below” must not be overlooked. Gallium arsenide (GaAs) devices, widely used for LEDs found in optical communications and control systems, are fabricated on 150mm wafers. Moreover, we’re not talking about wafers alone – a more accurate descriptor for this market may be “non-300mm,” to include panel manufacturing for advanced packaging solutions such as panel- level fan-out devices. 200mm Manufacturing Overcomes Hurdles There are a few hurdles on the path to $1 trillion that the industry will need to develop strategies to cope with and/or maneuver around. First is the current geopolitical environment. While this doesn’t directly impact non-300mm, as these tools are not on the restricted list, 200mm silicon was neglected for a long time because of the focus on leading- edge devices. Chipmakers’ overall strategic planning and investment are now shifting to address the importance of lagging-edge technology nodes, as evidenced by the surge in new 200mm fabs. Transitioning some manufacturing to 200mm and below can ease competitive forces, enabling cost savings and optimized production volumes, helping to drive revenues.

The global semiconductor industry is growing steadily as integrated circuits (ICs) are now a pervasive part of our everyday lives. Despite recent supply shortages and other challenges, semiconductors are nevertheless projected to become a US$1 trillion industry by 2030, with more than two-thirds of overall growth expected to be driven by automotive, computing/data storage, and wireless technologies. While the lion’s share of this total will belong to advanced devices manufactured on 300mm and larger wafers, the 200mm manufacturing segment has a vital role to play in helping the industry reach a $1 trillion valuation. The 200mm and below market is highly segmented, covering many different areas such as power devices, discretes, LEDs, sensors, and others. These areas overlap with the top-level end-market drivers. For example, in the computing space, what comes to mind initially is leading-edge semiconductors for memory and logic, as they’re the primary drivers for computing, followed immediately by chips for artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics. From the 200mm perspective, if you are missing the non-leading-edge devices that go around that memory and logic, you still won’t have a functioning computer system – thus, while 200mm and below devices in computing may not be enabling, they are essential. The other top-line end markets are less than 300mm centric. Communication will depend more on RF devices, while in automotive, the fastest-growing semiconductor content is power devices built on compound semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN); as well as sensors. For these devices, 200mm and below manufacturing is an enabler; even 300mm content in automotive won’t be leading-edge.

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Figure 1: The chiplet concept disaggregates SoCs to make their functionality more widely available.

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