Shift from 8in to 12in Wafer Fabs Could Ease IC Shortages

Press Release published by EnSilica, under Product Design, Radar, Radio Technologies, Research (Technology), Sensors

The economics of 8in wafers make the current supply shortages a feature, not a glitch. Shifting to 12in can help future-proof your supply chain.

To put it mildly, the 8-inch (200mm) wafer supply chain is somewhat struggling.

As one headline from December read, “8-inch wafer capacity is in short supply to unimaginable levels”, with the article stating “wafer production capacity is so tight that customers’ demand for production capacity has reached a panic level.” And that from mid 2021 “to the second half of 2022, the logic and DRAM markets will be out of stock.”

And to cap it all off, March’s fire at a Renesas fab used by GM and other car manufacturers can only make matters worse. As Nikkei put it: “Loss of advanced semiconductors could worsen global crunch [of automotive chips].”

12” and 8” processes supplied by TSMC at 130 nm include logic, analog, RF, high-voltage, MEMS and BCD-Power ICs. Note: the graph doesn’t highlight the overlap occurs that occurs around 0.13µ.

The causes of these issues are multiple, but have been hugely exacerbated by the pandemic, which has driven demand for many types of products including headphones, PCs, TVs, monitors and mobile phones. Added to this are sectors such as automotive which were expected to begin recovering from the pandemic this year. And while products aim to integrate many functions into a single SoC, many products typically have a digital IC accompanied by one or more mixed-signal companion chips. These cover applications such as power management (PMIC), CMOS image sensing, fingerprint sensing, automotive motor and chassis control, display drivers and sub-GHz RF radios and typically make use of 180 nm or 350 nm technology, manufactured on 8-inch (200mm) wafers.

In short, the continuous increase in demand for these mixed signal chips and power devices is the main reason for the shortage of 8-inch wafer production capacity.

Read the full article at EET ASIA (English).

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