Semiconductors and Components

450mm Wafer Consortium Appoints TSMC Exec as Leader

25 March 2014

The Global 450mm Consortium (G450C), headquartered at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in Albany, New York, has appointed Cheng-Chung Chien, from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. as its general manager of internal operations. He take up his post mid-year.

Chien joined TSMC in 2000 where he is currently director of Fab 3. Prior appointments include assistant vice president at Quanta Display and deputy director at Vanguard International Semiconductor. Chien attended National Tsinghua University in Taiwan where he received a Master's degree in Physics.

G450C is the consortium chartered with driving the transition to production of chips on 450mm diameter wafers. It was formed in 2011 as a cooperation between five chip companies: Intel, TSMC, Globalfoundries, IBM and Samsung. However, these are probably the only chip companies with any interest in manufacturing on the larger wafers. The cost of developing the equipment and infrastructure ready for such a transition is estimated to be of the order of billions of dollars.

One task Chien will face will be the need to invigorate the initiative as there has been much speculation that the 450mm transition could be a decade away or may never happen. Intel, the world's largest chip company and until recently a natural leader in chip manufacturing technology is reportedly de-emphasizing 450mm as is lithography equipment provider ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands).

Intel's reluctance is believed to stem from its relatively poor sales and low manufacturing capacity utilization in recent quarters due to its dependence on the PC sector. Intel has been forced to leave the shell of its latest wafer fab, Fab 42, empty amid a slow down in the PC sector. The shell was completed in 2013 and was expected to start making chips using Intel's leading-edge 14nm FinFET process on 300-mm diameter wafers. The fab is also the first to be built with a view to eventual conversion to 450-mm diameter wafers as required.

As a fab manager Chien has a record of driving down production costs while improving operational efficiency. In 2011 he won the Republic of China National Excellence Management Award for "Outstanding Production Manager."

The appointment reaffirms TSMC’s commitment to the G450C program, CNSE said in a statement. "Mr. Chien has established himself as a leader in innovation and technology who doesn’t just meet expectations, but exceeds them. We are excited by what his appointment means for the future of the G450C program and welcome him to the team," said Alain Kaloyeros, CEO of CNSE.

"I am humbled and excited by the appointment to lead this consortium of industry leaders as we plan for the final stages in the transition to 450mm wafer technology," said Chien, in the same statement.

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