Chartered to build 12-inch wafer fab in Singapore

Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., a major contract chip manufacturer, will upgrade a planned wafer fabrication plant in Singapore to be capable of processing 300-millimetre (12-inch) wafers in 2002, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The Fab 7 facility, originally planned as a 200-millimetre wafer fabrication, will be the first in Singapore capable of handling these larger wafers and will now cost US$3.5 billion to build, Chartered said. It will help Chartered meet its goal of doubling its wafer capacity within the next three years.

The new fab will have 16,000 square metres of clean-room space and will be capable of processing more than 30,000 300-millimeter wafers per month in full production, according to the statement. Pilot production is scheduled to start in 2002. Chartered’s customers for chips are mainly involved in telecommunications, wireless and other connectivity-related applications.

Chartered said it was important to invest for the future, despite short-term uncertainty around the softening in end-market demand. Semiconductor inventory corrections that are occurring in the first half of 2001 are expected to have passed by the time Fab 7 begins commercial production next year, Chartered said in the statement.

Featuring a surface area 2.25 times larger than current industry standard 200-millimeter wafers, the larger wafers will allow for more chips to be cut from each wafer that promises to lower costs. In addition, 300-millimetre wafer production lines are also expected to deliver higher yields.

Chartered ranks third in size behind the world’s two biggest contract chipmakers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), both based in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

In December last year, UMC announced it will build a semiconductor plant in Singapore with a planned investment of US$3.6 billion, which when fully operational, will have a total capacity of 40,000 300-millimetre wafers per month.

In November last year, TSMC, the world’s largest dedicated chip contract manufacturer, became the first of the major manufacturers to begin processing customers’ products on a 300-millimetre wafer fabrication line.

Chartered, in Singapore, can be contacted at