Bright Side of News reports TSMC will unveil a process qualification specification and service package for automotive-grade semiconductor manufacturing at the China IC Design Conference in Xiamen on December 2, 2009. This new generation of chips should be resistant to the high stress environment that cars present, which almost exclusively resulted in low lifespans for previous generations of chips.
From the TSMC press release: "Integrated circuits of all types are playing a larger role in the automotive industry. Our commitment is to support automotive IC technology including innovations that are taking place in China," said Jason Chen, VP Worldwide Sales and Marketing, TSMC. "We are backing this commitment with action by dedicating our efforts at Fab 10 in Shanghai to accelerate the growth of China’s automotive present and future."
Basically, the inherent problem with the previous generations of chips is that they wear out prior to vehicle being scrapped, making for costly repairs. The lackluster lifespan of the ICs is due to the high stress environment that autos present. The automotive process specification, which has been made widely public as of November 27, 2009, was first proposed at the 2008 Annual Electronics Council. To ensure that the semiconductors will outlast the vehicle, TSMC is instating a comprehensive Automotive Service Package to reduce failure rate in addition to TSMC’s customer’s test methodology. The goal of the TSMC Automotive Service Package is to incorporate tightened process control, device level screen limit, and wafer sorting scrap criteria, additional SPC monitoring, preferred tools, etc. It significantly reduces process variation and outliers.