Bosch builds €550 million chip plant

The Bosch Group is investing €550 million in the construction of a new manufacturing facility for 200mm semiconductors at its site in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. Construction of the works is due to begin in the autumn of 2007, with rollout of production planned for mid-2009.

The plant will have a total capacity of up to 1,000 silicon wafers per day, equivalent to a daily production volume of up to one million microchips. Bosch has been manufacturing 150mm semiconductors in Reutlingen for 10 years.

Semiconductor and micromachined chips from Reutlingen are mainly used in the automotive industry. They control systems such as ABS and ESP as well as airbags, electronic engine management, and driver assistance systems. On average, between 100 and 200 application-specific microchips are installed in a middle or luxury-class vehicle.

The new Reutlingen plant will mainly be geared to the ‘small power process’, in which integrated circuits combine on one chip highly sensitive signal processing and high voltage circuits for the control of high-performance actuators. The chips must perform reliably under the especially tough thermal and mechanical loads experienced during driving.

The technology uses ultra-fine structures which are deposited on the chips. The structures will initially be 0.35 micrometres wide, but at a later stage, Bosch plans to halve structure width to 0.18 micrometres.

In addition, MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) technologies are also to be rolled out in the 200mm wafer fabrication plant, to manufacture micromechanical sensors that are used in cars, mobile phones, PDAs and games consoles.