Fab's 'ripple effect' grows [Times Union, Albany, N.Y.]
(Times Union (Albany, NY) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 27--ALBANY -- Applied Materials, one of the world's largest equipment suppliers to computer chip makers such as GlobalFoundries, says it plans to be active in efforts in Albany to move the industry to 450 millimeter manufacturing.
The University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is leading a major initiative, called the Global 450 Consortium, or G450C, for the world's largest chip companies to start making chips on 18-inch, or 450mm, silicon wafers.
Today's cutting-edge chip factories -- like the $4.6 billion fab operated by GlobalFoundries in Saratoga County -- make chips on 12-inch, or 300mm wafers. But 450mm is expected to drastically cut costs through economies of scale.
Equipment suppliers, which will have to design new machines to fit the larger wafers, have been hesitant in the past to push for a 450mm move because many of them haven't recouped the cost of the last migration from 200mm to 300mm.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of G450C last fall as part of $4.8 billion in spending on cutting-edge chip research planned by IBM, Intel, GlobalFoundries, Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. The work would take place at the NanoCollege and affiliated sites across upstate.
The NanoCollege is building a new facility called NanoFab Xtension on Washington Avenue Extension that will house G450C, and Cuomo included $250 million in his executive budget for the college as part of the state's commitment to the new programs.
The equipment suppliers, also known as "tool" makers, were not included in G450C. But college officials say they have had talks with the tool companies about membership, and at a recent industry conference, the chief executive officer of Applied Materials urged other tool companies to get involved in the G450C effort. Applied Materials has a small office on Route 9 in Malta it uses to serve the GlobalFoundries factory -- Fab 8 -- just to the south.
The interest by Applied Materials and possibly other tool makers show how the state's efforts to turn the NanoCollege into a major semiconductor research center have not only attracted manufacturers like GlobalFoundries but also the supply chain that is part of the "ripple effect" economic development officials have long said would create thousands of additional jobs for the region.
Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Applied Materials had $10 billion in sales in 2011.
Applied Materials spokeswoman Amaya Wiegert said this week that although the company is not part of G450C, it "encourages the fab tool equipment industry to create a forum to address issues" within the consortium and "supports an expanded cooperation" between tool makers and chip manufacturers.
Wiegert said that Applied Materials will have machines ready for pilot 450mm production whenever its customers need it.
"Prior to this, Applied Materials will have tools in the G450C consortia development facility in (Albany), where the company will partner with leading customers and ecosystem players to develop tools to meet our customers' needs," she said.
Reach Larry Rulison at 454-5504 or at email@example.com.
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