Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wafer Fab Plant Visit

We took our final exam today in our Supply Chain logistics class! Whew! It feels great to be done with that, and with our group project. My group was Doris, Annie, Michelle and myself and we presented about Apple's supply chain operations in the Asia Pacific region. Hopefully we did well, Annie and I designed our powerpoint with a lot of sweet smart art graphics and charts and Doris interned at Apple so she helped us with the inside scoop.

This afternoon, we went to visit a wafer fab (fabrication) plant at SSMC. That stands for Super Secret Micro Chips.

Just kidding, it stands for Systems on Silicon Manufacturing. We had a short presentation about the company from one of their HR guys, then we got to put on the onesie suits and go into the clean room to see how they actually manufacture the wafers! I wish I could have taken pictures inside, especially of us in the clean room suits, but there was no photography allowed for company IP security reasons.So here are some pictures pulled from Google images to show you what clean room bunny suits look like:

These suits are specifically designed to keep dust and other contaminating particles out of the clean room. We had to take off our shoes and put on the one piece suit, then zip up booties over our feet. We also had to wear hair nets over our hair (even though our hair was under the little hooded part of the suit), latex gloves and surgical masks over our faces, including our nose. After putting on the suit, we walked through a dry air shower to clean us and our bunny suits off one last time before we were allowed to walk into the clean room where all the fabrication machinery was.

This is what a silicon wafer looks like (up close). The SSMC plant in Singapore that we visited today produces around 50,000 of these 8-inch diameter wafers every month. Each wafer takes about a month and a half to produce. I am not quite sure how this plant measures up against other wafer fabrication plants in Taiwan and China, but our HR tour guide was unsure how to answer my question when I asked him that.

This plant in Singapore actually gets the raw silicon from suppliers and then manufactures these disc-shaped things called wafers. Then they process the wafers and add different layers called masks to them to create patterns and miniature circuits. Then they test the wafer during the finishing process and then use lasers to slice a disc into what eventually turns into little microchips that go inside a computer or a cell phone. It was really cool to see the giant machines that looked like supercomputers from the 1980s, run by a mix of people that were dressed in the clean room scrub suits and ancient computers with some sort of GUI software.

This visit reminded me a lot of when my dad took me to Motorola on Daughter-to-work day when I was younger, my dad works in semiconductor design stuff and showed me a clean room when I was like 10. Yes, I'm that nerdy :)


Post a Comment