Officially, both the Fab 1 expansion in Dresden and Fab 8 in New York have reached RFE or Ready For Equipment status, and tools are being moved in. While this may not sound like much, the simple fact that you are talking about clean rooms means that one of the hardest parts of the fab is already working right.
Going from construction and concrete dust to an indoor stadium that has no sub-micron particles is not an easy or quick job. You can’t just call in the janitor and start mopping until it looks good, you need to be 100% sure that things are right. This means all the temperature controls, air movement, air cleaning, and other minutia are doing their jobs.
If you put equipment in to a non-clean clean room, you can contaminate the equipment and compound your headaches. A small air leak will stop things cold, or worse yet, set you way back while costing lots of money. You don’t throw a $45 million litho machine on to a borrowed pickup truck and take it to Best Buy for a tuneup.
Remember TSMCs headaches at 40nm? A little bird tells SemiAccurate that the contamination problems early on were the result of a small air leak in the 40nm fab. It doesn’t take much to result in a multi-million dollar problem. A crack in a duct can almost sink a facility now, things are that sensitive.
The RFE announcement means that the facility in question is basically done, no cracks or leaks. Now Glofo will start putting tools in place, calibrating everything, and tweaking the little things. This part is by no means easy, but the recipes should be done, and it is a mostly iterative process from here on out. I would expect the first wafers to be coming out the door in Q4, right on schedule.S|A