Featuring a surface area 2.25 times larger than current industry standard eight-inch wafers, the 12-inch wafers will allow for more chips to be cut from each wafer which promises to lower costs. In addition, 12-inch wafer production lines are also expected to deliver higher yields, Hsinchu, Taiwan-based TSMC said in a statement.
US-based Altera and Brilliance Semiconductor of Taiwan, are the first customers to have their designs produced on a 12-inch pilot line in one of TSMC's wafer fabrication plants. The processing of the first commercial 12-inch wafers began earlier this month, the company said.
By next year, when it is expected to reach full capacity, the pilot line is expected to reach a monthly production rate of up to 4500 12-inch wafers per month, which is equal to 10,000 eight-inch wafers, TSMC said.
The pilot line will produce wafers based on .13, .15 and .18 process technologies.
Meanwhile, TSMC is also readying two new fabrication plants that will be dedicated to production of 12-inch wafers. The first of the dedicated 12-inch wafer plants is scheduled to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2001, TSMC said.
TSMC produces chips for many of the world's leading chip vendors, including Intel. Companies such as Intel, which mainly rely on their own fabrication plants, normally only outsource a limited part of their production needs.
Chip vendors without their own production facilities, however, rely entirely on contract manufacturers, or foundry service providers as they are called in industry jargon, such as TSMC and crosstown rival United Microelectronics. The bulk of the products sold by Taipei-based PC chip-set and processor vendor Via Technologies, for example, are manufactured by TSMC.