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3 ways to reduce power consumption in semiconductor manufacturing

Neil Garland, Global Product Manager, on the need to reduce power consumption, while maintaining system reliability

Did you know that energy costs can make up to 30% of a fab’s operating budget? Depending on local electricity rates, this rate can differ from one semiconductor factory (or “Fab”) to another, but every company in the electronics industry is aware that energy is a significant cost.

Wafer processing tools and support tools and support equipment account for nearly 50% of the total energy consumed. So every kWh saved has a big impact on a Fab’s bottom line.

Saving on energy costs isn’t only beneficial for a Fab’s operating budget, it is quite often also a corporate goal to meet or exceed a government’s power reduction regulations and “Green Initiatives”. In other words: the pressure to reduce energy consumption is not only measured in economic terms, but in political terms, too. 

Neil Garland, Global Product Manager, discusses how Edwards understands the need to reduce power consumption, while maintaining system reliability.

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Edwards iXM - driving productivity and power efficiency from Semiconductor Chamber Solutions

Right-sized equipment saves energy across the semiconductor’s business cycles

Much of wafer processing support equipment is oversized and operates above the actual required specification. Often this choice is made to provide headroom and support chamber matching, to avoid costly downtime. It is essential to develop cost-effective solutions while maintaining critical process parameters, but oversizing comes with a cost.

There are solutions to lower your pumping system’s power consumption without oversizing. For example, incorporating a “proximity booster” at the semiconductor tool reduces the peak pumping speed requirement of the SubFab backing pump. The power consumption of this optimized pumping system can be significantly less than the power consumed by a single oversize SubFab pump. Additionally, the reduced equipment footprint saves valuable SubFab space and avoids the costly iceberg effect.

Consider the temperature and pressure of the system’s cooling water

Pumping systems are generally water-cooled. As a result, cooling water, system pressure flow and temperature are significant cost contributors. Make sure your pumping system is designed for the best efficiency for your application, whereby the cooling water is near ambient temperature, and provided at lower pressure. Any cost savings are cumulative, as there are thousands of pumps in a typical Fab.

Smarter systems and more efficient installations

A smarter installation is often a more efficient system. For example: we regularly incorporate sophisticated motor drive control schemes in our pumps. These control schemes achieve an optimized full load current rating, while maintaining a high reliability. The system’s current rating at full load is decisive to choose breaker and power cable sizes, therefore a smart motor drive control scheme, optimizing the full load current rating, improves the power usage and reliability of the whole system. These smart installations are particularly important during harsh duty restart events, for example after an unexpected power outage.

It’s a myth that oversizing your vacuum or abatement equipment improves reliability. With a thorough knowledge of critical semiconductor operating parameters, and the Fab facility’s cost drivers, we can optimize pumping systems so they are highly reliable, without over-specifying the equipment. That will save on both installation and operating costs.

Neil Garland profile pic

Neil Garland

Global Product Manager

Critical Parameters for Equipment Used on New Harsh Processes

To read more, download Alan Brightman’s article Critical Parameters for Equipment Used on New Harsh Processes, below.

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