Infineon Opens New 300mm Thin Wafer Chip Plant

Infineon Opens New 300mm Thin Wafer Chip Plant

Last week, Infineon opened a new 1.6 billion euro chip fab that will create 400 new jobs in Villach, Austria. The 60,000 m² plant will be one of the most advanced in the world, especially in the field of power electronics. It is located beside the German company’s global centre of expertise for power electronics in the Austrian town. The opening of the plant could not have come at a better time for Infineon, as demand for power semiconductors, especially in the automotive sector is as high as it has ever been. At the opening, Infineon’s CEO Reinhard Ploss expected that demand to continue well into the future as its key target markets of the automotive industry, data centers and renewable energy generation continue to grow. The first wafers will leave the plant this week, and when the plant is fully operational over the next four or five years, Infineon expects it to generate an additional 2 billion euro to its balance sheet every year.


The new chip factory has fully embraced the tenets of Industry 4.0 with full automation and digitization. Infineon will use data along with AI simulations to help predict when the factory’s machinery will require maintenance. The Villach site’s production and digitization concepts will mirror the company’s other 300mm thin wafer plant in Dresden, Germany. This will allow the company to control the manufacturing operations across both sites as if they were a single megafactory. Production orders can then be easily moved across sites, providing flexibility for customers and additional efficiency in raw materials and energy for Infineon.


Both the Dresden and Villach chip fabs will manufacture chips on 300mm thin wafers, which have a depth of only 40 µm. The company has been developing and optimising the technology for the last decade in Villach and entered volume production in 2015 before transferring the technology to Dresden’s fully automated production line. 300mm thin wafer technology has significant productivity advantages over wafers normally used in power electronics thanks to the larger wafer diameter. It is also very resource efficient.


Besides the technology used for IC manufacture, the company has also paid special attention to the sustainability of the plant and its operation. The waste heat from the cooling systems will be recycled to supply 80% of the site’s heating. Exhaust air purification systems will also be used to cut direct emissions from the factory to virtually zero. From 2022, the hydrogen used in the plant’s processes will be produced on the Villach site using renewable energy sources, eliminating the CO 2 emissions usually found in the original production and transportation. After use, the hydrogen will be recycled to be used to fuel public transportation buses.


The new plant will give a boost to the European electronics industry. The EU has stated recently that it wanted to build up the semiconductor supply chain in the region. It contributed a portion of the cost of the plant along with the Austrian government.