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Infineon Opens 300-Millimeter Power Semi Wafer Fab

On September 17 Infineon Technologies officially opened its high-tech chip factory for power electronics on 300-millimeter wafers at its Villach site in Austria under the motto “Ready for Mission Future.” At 1.6 billion Euros, this investment represents one of the largest projects in the microelectronics sector in Europe.

The Villach site is one of the world’s most modern fabs and was opened by Infineon’s CEO Reinhard Ploss, Infineon’s Austria CEO Sabine Herlitschka along with EU Commissioner Thierry Breton and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Infineon set the stage for long-term, profitable growth based on energy efficiency and CO2 reduction at an early stage and announced the construction of the chip factory for power electronics in 2018. “The new fab is a milestone for Infineon, and its opening is very good news for our customers,” Ploss said. “The timing to create new capacity in Europe could not be better, given the growing global demand for power semiconductors. The last few months have clearly shown how essential microelectronics are in virtually every area of life. Given the accelerated pace of digitalization and electrification, we expect demand for power semiconductors to continue to grow in the coming years. The additional capacities opens up an additional revenue potential of around two billion Euros annually and will help us serve our customers worldwide better.”

After three years of preparation and construction, the factory was commissioned at the beginning of August, three months ahead of schedule. In the first stage of expansion, the chips will primarily be used to meet demand from the automotive industry, data centers and renewable energy generation of solar and wind power. The annual capacity planned for industrial semiconductors is sufficient to equip solar systems producing a total of around 1,500 TWh of electricity – roughly three times the annual power consumption in Germany.

During the construction of the factory, attention was paid to further improve its energy balance sheet: 80 percent of the site’s heating requirements will be covered by intelligently recycling the waste heat of the cooling systems, thus around 20,000 tons of CO2 can be avoided each year. The extensive use of exhaust air purification systems will cut direct emissions to virtually zero. Another milestone in terms of sustainable production and circular economy is the production and recycling of green hydrogen. The hydrogen required as a process gas in production will be produced directly on site in Villach from renewable energy sources starting at the beginning of 2022. This green hydrogen will be recycled after use in chip production and used to fuel public transportation buses. This project of dual use of green hydrogen is unique in Europe. With the help of these and other measures, the site take a huge stride forward in its effort to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The new chip factory has about 60,000 m² of gross floor space. Production will be gradually ramped up over the next four to five years. More than two-thirds of the 400 additional highly qualified specialists needed to operate the factory have already been hired. The chip factory is one of the most modern in the world and relies on full automation and digitization. As a “learning factory,” artificial intelligence solutions will be used primarily in the area of predictive maintenance. Networked plants will know at an early stage when they need maintenance thanks to a multitude of data and simulations.

The Villach-site is also part of a so-called virtual fab. “Infineon now has two large power semiconductor manufacturing sites for 300-millimeter thin wafers, one in Dresden and this in Villach. Both sites are based on the same standardized production and digitization concepts. This allows us to control the manufacturing operations at the two sites as if they were one factory. We increase productivity and create additional flexibility. This is because we can quickly move production volumes for different products between the sites and thus respond even faster to customer needs. This makes further increases in resource and energy efficiency possible, as well as optimization of the environmental footprint,” underlined COO Jochen Hanebeck. “The chips are manufactured on thin wafers, which at 40 micrometers are thinner than a human hair. Villach is the Group’s center of expertise for power semiconductors and has long been an important innovation site in Infineon's manufacturing network. It was here that the production of power semiconductors on 300-millimeter wafers was developed about ten years ago. This was then expanded to fully automated volume production at the Dresden site in recent years. The use of this technology brings significant productivity advantages due to the larger wafer diameter and reduces capital expenditure”.

 At the opening, Kurz underscored the new chip factory’s significance, including to his own country. “The Infineon site in Villach is an absolute success story,” he said. “The new chip factory is an economic and technological lighthouse project for all of Austria. I would like to thank all of those responsible for their commitment to our country, which will create additional 400 jobs. The investment of 1.6 billion euros shows that Austria, as a business and technology location, offers excellent framework conditions and the employee know-how that is needed to make them happen. We in the federal government want to continue to invest massively in digitization in order to position ourselves in the best possible way in global competition.” Sabine Herlitschka, the CEO of Infineon Technologies Austria AG, said: “With this investment, Infineon has demonstrated that it is also possible to build attractive production sites in Europe in the highly competitive semiconductor sector. We are setting new standards with this investment. The energy-saving chips from Villach will become important core elements for the energy transition. We are thus making a relevant contribution to the European Green Deal and beyond. We are ‘Ready for Mission Future.” AS




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