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Business

A Wafer Plant For Singapore

Project aims to meet growing demand from semiconductor firms

by Alexander H. Tullo
July 24, 2006 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 84, ISSUE 30

High-Tech
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Credit: WACKER
Multiple semiconductors are built on a single silicon wafer.
8430NOTW2_wafercxd.jpg
Credit: WACKER
Multiple semiconductors are built on a single silicon wafer.

Samsung Electronics and Siltronic, the silicon wafer business of Germany's Wacker Chemie, are forming a joint venture to construct a $1 billion plant in Singapore for 300-mm silicon wafers.

Construction is set to begin in August, following relevant regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed by mid-2008. The firms say the plant's output will reach 300,000 wafers per month by 2010.

Both companies will operate the 50-50 joint venture, which will be located near an existing Siltronic facility. Siltronic's parent, Wacker, will supply hyperpure polycrystalline silicon raw material for the wafers.

In electronics manufacturing, many semiconductor chips are made at one time on a single silicon wafer. The semiconductor industry has been gradually replacing 200-mm wafers with 300-mm wafers as a way to increase chip output. Samsung says the new plant will provide a steady supply of 300-mm wafers for its own semiconductor fabrication.

"A first in the wafer industry, this joint venture involved the collaboration of two industry leaders in their respective fields," says Siltronics CEO Wilhelm Sittenthaler, calling it a "milestone," with respect to innovation, time to market, and efficiency in the industry.

Sittenthaler expects demand for 300-mm wafers to grow by 50% this year. Siltronic is also expanding 300-mm-wafer capacity in Burghausen, Germany, by 80% to 135,000 wafers per month and in Freiberg, Germany, by one-third to 200,000 wafers per month.

Semiconductor manufacturing trade association SEMI expects the global silicon wafer market as a whole to increase from an estimated $8.3 billion last year to $10.9 billion in 2008.

Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, managing vice president of semiconductor consultancy Gartner Dataquest, told an audience at the semiconductor trade show Semicon West earlier this month that he expects the global semiconductor industry to grow by 8.5% per year through 2010, by then hitting $352 billion in annual sales. He continued, "2006 is a pretty good year for our industry," adding that he expects the industry's business cycle to peak in 2008.

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