Web tool to quantify environmental impact of IC manufacturing

Semiconductor manufacturing is a complex process with diverse environmental implications, ranging from high energy consumption to usage of scarce materials to greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, if the semiconductor industry wants to optimize its process flows to meet the Paris Agreement targets on climate change, it must first determine and mitigate processes or technologies with high environmental impact.

That calls for a wealth of data. So, imec has developed a virtual fab called imec.netzero to quantify the environmental impact of chip manufacturing. It collects and analyzes data on the energy, materials, chemicals, gases, and other resources used in each process step of manufacturing a chip.

Figure 1 The virtual fab is a web application that comes in private and public versions. Source: imec

The web application imec.netzero utilizes data from imec’s own fab, which is continuously benchmarked with data from equipment, material and fab partners such as Air Liquide, Applied Materials, ASM, ASML, Edwards, Kurita, Lam Research, SCREEN, Tokyo Electron, GlobalFoundries, Samsung, and TSMC.

These partners can access a private version of imec.netzero software application to review a detailed analysis and quantify embodied emissions and other environmental impacts about current and future IC technologies. On the other hand, the freely available public version offers access to the same fab models and process databases as imec.netzero Private.

While more limited access, the public version still provides unique insights into data otherwise not accessible to the public. That includes visual presentations of CO2 emissions, electrical energy consumption, and total water usage that can be generated for multiple logic and memory technologies from N28 onward based on fabrication in diverse geographical locations.

Figure 2 The imec.netzero application collects and analyzes data on the energy, materials, chemicals, gases, and other resources used in each process step of IC manufacturing. Source: imec

This web tool offering a quantified view of the environmental impact of IC manufacturing aims to serve academics, policymakers, and designers in the semiconductor industry. It’s being offered within imec’s Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research program, a collaborative framework involving the entire semiconductor ecosystem, spanning end users of electronics to fabs to material and equipment manufacturers.

“Our aim is to offer transparent and high-quality data on the environmental impact of IC manufacturing beyond the semiconductor supply chain and our SSTS program,” said Cédric Rolin, program manager at imec.

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