Inside the Fab
I thought I’d go back to the (relative) basics and walk our readers through what happens to make these chips, how they are made at IMFT Lehi, and what makes this new process so special. After the photos you’ll find some videos of everything in action, as well as some additional background on what goes into making these chips.
IM Flash Technologies. This huge fab is set on a stunning mountain backdrop.
This isn’t one of those snazzy stock photos – I took this pic on the day of the tour.
A cross sectional view of the chip fab. Thousands of tons of tool equipment are supported by the pillars below.
The layout creates a large open floor space on which the various tools are installed. All tool maintenance is done from the Subfab floor, leaving nothing but nice open space for the workers and machines. None of the walls on the Cleanroom floor are load bearing. The layout of the fab is just as much of an engineering marvel as the chips being produced there.
Time to make the donuts. All floor tiles are perforated for the downdraft
ventilation necessary to keep airborne particulates to a minimum.
It’s hard to imagine this as a mass production facility. With the bulk of the ‘assembly line’ existing overhead in the form of dozens of AMHS bots buzzing about, and any tool repairs and resupplying taking place below decks, the main fab floors are left nice and open. You wouldn’t think millions of units were leaving this place each and every week, but they most definitely are.
Front: A Front Opening Unified Pod (FOUP) being accessed by one of the many tool stages.
Rear: A FOUP is nabbed up by the overhead Automated Material Handling System (AMHS).
One of the lithography rooms. Lighting is controlled as to prevent
any possible adverse effects on the light sensitive photoresist.
A photolithography mask. Although the mask is much larger than the die,
it must be cut by an electron beam to obtain the necessary detail.
Alignment is crucial throughout the lithography process. Here cross-hairs zero
in on perfect center fast enough to make any die hard FPS gamer drool.
This pic taken mere seconds before I was tackled by Troy Winslow of Intel 🙂
I’ve held back from going photo crazy here as there are videos on the next page that do a much better job.