Bosch launches 200mm wafer fab
March 17, 2010 // Christoph Hammerschmidt
Despite the automotive electronics slump, Robert Bosch GmbH is about to open a new production line for semiconductors. The 200mm production line represents an investment of 600 million euros (about $825 million) – Bosch’s largest single investment ever.
The new 200mm semiconductor production line in Reutlingen will be launched in the presence of German president Horst Köhler on March 18. Bosch specifies the target capacity of the site to 1000 waferstarts per day; however, this target will be reached only in the 2016 timeframe. For the start phase, a capacity of about 500 waferstarts will be realistic, a Bosch spokesperson explained. In terms of geometries, the fab currently produces devices with feature sizes down to 180 nanometers. “Of course we have a roadmap towards smaller geometries,” the spokesperson said. However, he declined to provide details.
The fab will manufacture ASICS, ASSPs, analog ICs and power devices. At a later point in time, it is planned that a separate production line for MEMS will be installed in the fab. “MEMS have to be produced on a completely separated production line”, the spokesperson said.
Contrary to earlier statements the company currently does not plan to wind down its existing 150mm fab also based in Reutlingen. “This fab is fully utilized with automotive devices”, the spokesperson said. In addition, the company would have to re-qualify the chips if the production would be moved to the new fab – a costly process automotive chip vendors tend to avoid.
Unlike other semiconductor vendors which increasingly move towards a fab lite of fabless business model, Bosch plans to keep all of its semiconductor production in-house. Besides Japanese competitor Denso, Bosch is the only automotive tier one with activities in the Powertrain segment who at the same time manufactures semiconductors. “The proximity of chip production, electronics development and ECU production has proved to be very fruitful,” the spokesperson said. “In addition, some of our customers happen to be based nearby which also helps to keep communications processes simple and fast”, he said, referring to companies such as Daimler and Porsche that are headquartered in the vicinity. “
Instead of outsourcing production to foundries, Bosch plans to offer foundry services for industrial and MEMS customers, the spokesperson explained.
After a hefty dip in 2009, the market for automotive semiconductor currently is recovering. According to German industry association ZVEI, in 2009 the demand for automotive chips dropped by 31 percent; currently the capacity utilization has improved significantly, the spokesperson said. The 2007 record sales level however is expected to be reached not before 2012. The company also benefits from the automotive boom in China and India but the low-price vehicles produced there feature a lower semiconductor content than the average European, Japanese or American car. Bosch expects that the semiconductor content of these vehicles will double to $600 per car by the year 2020.
<a href=”http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=MACEFS3JFMVCVQE1GHPSKH4ATMY32JVN?articleID=222900076”>Bosch preps wafer fab to make automotive chips”</a>All news
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