Bosch has recently laid the foundation stone at Dresden, Germany for wafer fabrication or wafer fab (a procedure composed of many repeated sequential processes to produce the complete electrical or photonic circuits). Construction is scheduled to be completed in late 2019 when installation of the production machinery will start.
As a supplier of technology and services, Bosch is investing roughly one billion euros (Rs 7,976 crore) in its new location in the Saxony state capital. The first associates are due to start work in the new plant in early 2020. After Reutlingen, the Dresden plant is the Bosch Group’s second wafer fab in Germany.
According to the market research company Gartner, semiconductor sales around the world rose by some 22 percent in 2017 alone.
Semiconductor fabrication plant that is to come up in Dresden.
Dr Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch, at the formal ceremony in Dresden, said, “When semiconductors are installed in cars’ control units, for example, they enable automated, efficient driving and the best possible passenger protection.”
He further added that the city of Dresden has an excellent infrastructure and is well connected. The microelectronics cluster includes automotive suppliers and service providers, as well as technical expertise from different universities.
Dr Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch
Opting out of the conventional to scale economy
Manufacturing of semiconductors requires a highly automated and complex process consisting of several hundred individual steps over several weeks. It takes place in clean-room conditions, as even the tiniest particles in the ambient air can damage the delicate circuits.
Production of 300mm semiconductors in a special facility
Manufacturing semiconductor chips always start with a silicon disc or wafer. The bigger the wafer’s diameter, the more chips that can be made per manufacturing cycle. This is one reason why the new Bosch factory will focus on the production of 300 mm wafers: Compared with conventional 150 and 200 mm wafer fabs, 300 mm wafer technology offers greater economies of scale.
AI plays a special part at the plant
The Dresden plant is expected to generate data related to the entire production that would turn out to 500 text pages per second – written out on paper, that would be more than 42 million pages a day, weighing 22 metric tons. By implementing artificial intelligence, the highly automated production facilities analyse their own data in order to optimise their processes. As a result, the quality of the chips rises while production costs comes down. Furthermore, planning and process engineers can access this production data at any time to accelerate the development of new wafer products or minimise tolerances early on in the manufacturing process.
The 300mm semiconductor wafer to be produced at the Dresden plant
At its wafer fab in Reutlingen, Germany, Bosch currently manufactures ASICs, power semiconductors, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).