All three major foundries join sustainable fab programme

All three major foundries join sustainable fab programme

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The world’s three leading semiconductor foundries have joined the Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies & Systems (SSTS) research programme run by imec in Belgium.

The deal with TSMC, Samsung and GlobalFoundries, as well as Rapidus in Japan, marks an important milestone in bringing together the entire IC ecosystem, says imec.

Launched in 2021, the SSTS program brings together stakeholders from across the semiconductor industry, including systems companies and equipment suppliers. Adding the leading semiconductor foundries is a key step in helping to reduce the ecological impact of the semiconductor value chain and comes after US industry group Semi also launched a similar programme.

Imec cites studies that show almost 75 percent of mobile devices’ CO2 emissions can be traced back to the underlying manufacturing process, chip production being responsible for nearly half of that footprint.

The SSTS program provides detailed information on the environmental impact of choices made during semiconductor technology’s definition phase using the imec.netzero tool. This is a software platform that combines datasets to reach a quantified, bottom-up understanding of the environmental impact of the manufacturing of semiconductor logic and memory.

“SSTS’ success hinges on the active involvement of players from across the IC value chain,” said Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec. “Hence, I am delighted to announce that GlobalFoundries, Samsung Electronics, and TSMC, have now entered the program as well as our new core program partner Rapidus – following the earlier enrollment of renowned systems companies such as Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, as well as equipment suppliers including Applied Materials, ASML, Edwards, Kurita, SCREEN and Tokyo Electron. Having secured the buy-in from foundries across the globe marks an important milestone in effectively bringing together the entire semiconductor ecosystem.”

“By benchmarking our models at GlobalFoundries, Samsung Electronics, and TSMC, we will be able to further refine and optimize the imec.netzero tool, the web application that is at SSTS’s very heart and that allows us to assess energy consumption, water/mineral usage, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the various aspects of chip making. In the longer term, the partner program will also develop recommendations on how to improve the ecological footprint of chips by suggesting novel processes and technology optimizations,” added Lars-Åke Ragnarsson, the program director of SSTS.

“As part of GF’s longstanding commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing and operations, we are constantly looking for new ways to minimize our impact on the environment. This includes enhancing manufacturing emission controls, further improving energy efficiency, sourcing renewable and lower-carbon energy, and engaging through key partnerships including imec’s SSTS program,” said Stacey Barrick, head of global ESG at GF. “As the first semiconductor manufacturer to join the SSTS, we look forward to partnering with imec and others in the semiconductor ecosystem and helping develop innovative technologies that drive change across the entire supply chain in a holistic, meaningful way.”

“Our commitment to imec’s SSTS program stems from Samsung Electronic’s firm belief that we should not solely focus on meeting the mere technical requirements of the semiconductor industry. Being one of the world’s top foundries and memory supplier, we want to lead the way in developing innovative technologies that ensure the preservation of our planet for generations to come. Teaming up with imec and the other SSTS partners allows us to translate this commitment into tangible actions,” said Dooguen Song, Executive Vice President of the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Center at Samsung Electronics.

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