Kyle Flessner, who leads our Technology and Manufacturing Group, discusses TI’s plans to expand internal manufacturing capacity for the long term

01 Nov 2022
 

TI is making significant investments to expand manufacturing capacity to support the continued growth of semiconductors in electronics for decades to come.

Our company is adding six new 300-millimeter (mm) wafer fabs to internally manufacture our broad, diverse portfolio of analog and embedded processing semiconductor devices.

These new fabs will extend our global footprint of internal manufacturing operations – including wafer fab and assembly-test facilities – providing our customers with greater assurance of supply.

Kyle Flessner, senior vice president, Technology and Manufacturing Group, recently discussed our internal manufacturing strategy. Our Technology and Manufacturing Group includes silicon, packaging and test technology development, as well as our global manufacturing operations and semiconductor quality.

Question: What is TI’s long-term manufacturing and technology strategy and how does it benefit our customers?

Kyle Flessner: A core element of our strategy is to invest in increasing our internal manufacturing capacity – in wafer fabs and assembly-test sites we own – rather than relying only on external suppliers. We are growing our internal capacity to support the increasing need for semiconductors, and we and our customers remain pleased with the progress of our expansions. We are thrilled to see initial production running through our newest and largest 300mm wafer fab, RFAB2 in Richardson, Texas, and we’re looking forward to production in our next 300mm wafer fab, LFAB in Lehi, Utah, late this year.

In addition to owning our manufacturing capacity, we also own our process, packaging and test technology development, which is another important element of our strategy that allows us to efficiently introduce new product designs. Our technology groups work closely with our businesses and our manufacturing operations to ensure differentiation, manufacturability, optimal technology usage and cost efficiency for our analog and embedded processing products early in the design process.

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Q: What is a 300mm wafer and why is that size important?

Kyle: Three hundred millimeters – or 12 inches in diameter – is the largest and most advanced diameter size for silicon wafers. The larger the wafer, the more individual semiconductor chips you can produce. A single 300mm wafer can hold up to millions of individual semiconductor chips – at least 2.3 times more than the more commonly used and smaller 200mm wafers.

Our strategic focus has been on 300mm wafer fabrication for well over a decade. In addition to generating more chips per wafer, 300mm wafer fabrication is done with more advanced equipment and fully automated manufacturing flows. That provides great yield, quality and efficiency, which translates into better cost and assurance of supply for our products. By getting more chips onto a wafer, we are also able to reduce waste and improve water and energy consumption per chip.

Q: Our wafer fab investments are focused on 45-nanometer to 130-nanometer nodes. Can you explain what a technology node is and how it relates to 300mm manufacturing? 

Kyle: The technology node indicates the minimum geometry that exists on the wafer. Reducing the node size increases the density of components and shrinks the size of individual die, or chips. However, size is a tradeoff with other factors. If the node you design on is very small, you need to address significant challenges regarding voltage levels, power consumption, thermal performance, precision and so forth. These challenges can increase cost and not necessarily translate into any benefits for your product.

We’ve got innovative technology that allows us to be efficient and create differentiated products. All our latest technology developments are done in 45nm to 130nm nodes, which are specifically designed to leverage 300mm manufacturing efficiencies and provide the optimal cost, performance, power, precision and voltage levels required for our broad portfolio of analog and embedded products.

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Q: Why is control of our supply chain important for customers?

Kyle: Our internal manufacturing footprint gives us flexibility to adapt to market conditions, scale our supply and support customers during any market environment. For example, when needed, we can source products from multiple factories. We also have global product distribution centers located near our customers’ manufacturing locations, which is part of ensuring we provide customers with the products they need, when and where they need them.

Q: What steps are our manufacturing sites taking to be sustainable? 

Kyle: Our company has a long-standing commitment to responsible, sustainable manufacturing. Nearly a decade ago, we built the world’s first green, LEED Gold-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) semiconductor manufacturing facility – RFAB in Richardson, Texas. Our sustainability goals at the 92-acre site included reducing consumption of natural resources, reducing pollution and generally lowering the impact to the environment and community. The benefits of our sustainability initiatives include improving air quality and reducing the use of energy, water and building materials. As we expand our manufacturing operations, we continue to design facilities to meet LEED Gold standards for structural efficiency and sustainability.

In addition, we invest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through upgraded factory tools, abatement technology and using more alternative energy. We also reuse or recycle nearly 90% of our waste and surplus materials, in addition to reusing much of our water.

Q: Any last thoughts?

Kyle: I’m excited about our future. We’ve got fantastic technology, advanced 300mm manufacturing, and an exciting culture that gives us the opportunity to create differentiated products for our customers. Internal manufacturing and technology development are unique advantages we have as a company that allow us to support the growing demand for semiconductors for decades to come.