In the semiconductor news, there is always something going on in the fab, and most of the time it is about the size: what is a wafer, say, an 8-inch or 12-inch fab? Among them 8 inches, 12 inches specific refers to how much size? Let's take you to understand.
A wafer is actually silicon, the most critical material in semiconductor integrated circuits. It is called a wafer because of its round shape. And its main role in components, is in the silicon wafer production and processing into a variety of circuit components, and become a specific electrical function of IC goods.
Just as we build a house, the wafer is the foundation. Without a good and stable foundation, the house will not be stable. In order to build a strong house, you need a stable substrate. For chip manufacturing, the substrate is the wafer.
What about the wafer type? What about 300mm/450mm, 8-inch / 12-inch wafers?
It's easy to understand that this number is all about the size or diameter of the wafer, and millimeters and inches are just different units of measurement. The larger the size or diameter, the larger the wafer, the more chips will be produced. The wafer models are as follows:
1 inch (25 mm)
2 inches (51 mm)
3 inches (76 mm)
4 inches (100 mm)
4.9 inches (125 mm)
150 mm (5.9 inches, often referred to as "6 inches")
200 mm (7.9 inches, often referred to as "8 inches")
300 mm (11.8 inches, often referred to as "12 inches")
450 mm (17.7 in.)
675 mm (26.6 in.)
But there wasn't always such a wide variety of wafer types. Since the introduction of 1-inch wafers in the 1860s, 8-inch wafers in 1992, and 12-inch wafers in 2002, there is still considerable resistance to the transition to 450mm size wafers, and its cost is estimated to be about 4 times that of 300mm.
At present, the main wafer diameters in the market are 150mm, 200mm and 300mm, corresponding to 6 inch, 8 inch and 12 inch wafers respectively. The most popular one is 300mm, or 12 inch wafers.
Because 6-inch wafers and even 8-inch wafers are being phased out over the years, people are moving to 12-inch wafers and even 16-inch wafers, and because of the cost, 12-inch wafers now account for the largest portion of the market, accounting for about 80% of all wafers.
The reason people are willing to explore and break through this resistance is that the larger the wafer size, the more the utilization of the wafer, the cheaper and more efficient the production of chips, so for decades, people have been looking for ways to do that.