The semiconductor industry faces challenges without end, and one of the major issues looming on the horizon is the move to 450 millimeters, and all the questions and challenges that involves. When the issue was recently broached with Archie Hwang, who became chairman of SEMI in June, Hwang emphasized that production platforms within the fabs would have to change, and change dramatically, if they are going to handle the relatively huge size of 450mm. Concerning the R&D costs, Hwang indicated that there's a tendency these days for the equipment makers themselves to have to bear a proportion of those costs.
Charles Kau, president of DRAM maker Inotera, pointed out that the industry may split on the 450mm issue, between those bigger players that wish to scale up on a faster schedule, and suppliers who don't want to make the move too fast. The big players will aim to increase revenues and profits by transitioning to larger wafers. For smaller companies, it will be a question of survival, since many of them will hardly be able to afford the cost of transition. The danger there is that suppliers of materials and equipment may lose their customers.