July 15, 2011 officially marks GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 8’s “Ready for Equipment (RFE)” date; a significant milestone in the development of the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility. When GLOBALFOUNDRIES first designed Fab 8, the original RFE date was September 9, 2011, but due to heavy customer demands, the date was moved up 56 days to July 15, 2011. RFE is the official commencement of the installation phase for processing equipment in the cleanroom manufacturing space and marks the transition of the project from the construction phase to the operations phase.
The first phase includes tools and equipment associated with the automated materials handling system (AMHS). The AMHS is an overhead track that is responsible for transporting, storing, and managing semiconductor wafer carriers. The overhead track must be installed first to prevent damage to the ground-mounted tools during the track’s installation. Next are the “stockers,” where the wafers are stored in the cleanroom.
The next tool sets to be installed are the main processing tools, which typically include Photolithographic tools. Fab 8 is currently in the process of taking delivery, staging and installing the first 30 or so wafer processing tools in addition to the many other tools related to Factory Automation and Materials Analysis.
These tools represent a small fraction of the total number of tools required to complete the silicon wafer process. It will take about a year to get all the tools installed and ready for production in Fab 8. The tools and equipment GF has installed so far already represent an investment of several hundred million dollars. The total capital equipment budget for Fab 8, Module 1, Phase 1 is about $3.8 billion. The total project budget for Fab 8, including the complete construction, fit-up and tooling of Module 1, Phase 1 and Phase 2 will be approximately $7 billion and most of that budget goes toward purchasing the tools.
Below are pictures that show the progress in the cleanroom construction:
Also, check out SemiAccurate’s article on the significance of RFE.