Official opening of the 300-millimeter wafer fab in Dresden

Bosch opens wafer fab of the future in Dresden

06/2020, Dresden, Germany – Fully connected, data-driven, self-optimizing: in Dresden, Bosch is opening one of the world’s most modern wafer fabs. Highly automated, fully connected machines and integrated processes, combined with methods of artificial intelligence (AI) will make the Dresden plant a smart factory and a trailblazer in Industry 4.0.

“Thanks to the combination of artificial intelligence and the internet of things, we are creating the basis for data-driven, continuous improvement in manufacturing.”

Dr. Volkmar Denner

Dr. Volkmar Denner

Former chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH

In the virtual presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, EU Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, and Saxony’s Minister-President Michael Kretschmer, the high-tech facility was officially inaugurated on June 7, 2021.

“The new Bosch wafer fab will boost our capacity in microelectronics. Microelectronics is the basis for nearly every promising technology, for applications of artificial intelligence, for quantum computing, and for automated and connected driving – which is also a Bosch specialty,” said Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. “The new wafer fab is the single largest investment in the company’s history. This cannot be stressed too much. Its size and additional production capacity alone are impressive. The very latest methods of data-driven continuous improvement in production make the Dresden plant a smart factory. To put it another way: in this plant, natural and artificial intelligence have joined forces with the internet of things to form a productive symbiosis.”

Semiconductors for better quality of life and road safety

Bosch Semiconductor manufacturing in Dresden

In the shape of microchips, semiconductors are to be found in nearly every technical device – in smartphone, televisions, and fitness bracelets. And without semiconductors, cars would not work, either today or in the future. In 2016, every new vehicle worldwide had an average of more than nine Bosch chips on board, in devices such as the airbag control unit, the braking system, and the park assist system. In 2019, this figure was already more than 17. In other words, their number had nearly doubled in just a few years. In the years to come, experts expect to see the strongest growth in driver assistance systems, infotainment, and the electrification of the powertrain.

With its wafer fab in Dresden, Bosch is responding to the increased demand for semiconductors. “Semiconductors are the building blocks of progress. Electronic components equipped with chips from Dresden will make applications such as automated and resource-conserving driving possible, as well as the best possible occupant protection,” said Harald Kroeger, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. Surveys confirm this growth in demand: as recently as 1998, according to the ZVEI, the value of the microelectronics in a new car was 120 euros. By 2018, this value had risen to 500 euros, and in 2023 it is expected to exceed 600 euros. This means that semiconductors are a growth area for Bosch as well.

Semiconductor expertise as a competitive advantage

Bosch Semiconductor manufacturing in Dresden

“Chips for vehicles are the ultimate discipline in semiconductor technology. This is because in cars, these small building blocks have to be especially robust,” Kroeger said. Over a vehicle’s service life, chips are exposed to strong vibrations and extreme temperatures that range from far below freezing to far above the boiling point of water. In other words, chips have to meet higher standards of reliability. This means that the development of automotive semiconductors is more complicated than in other applications. This requires specialist expertise, and Bosch has amassed such expertise over the course of decades.

Its developers and engineers understand the physical principles behind microelectronic automotive components. This opens up the possibility of complete systems that prevent accidents and protect the environment – again, the company is a one-stop shop for the development and manufacture of such systems. “This dual strength – the combination of chip and systems expertise – is strategically important for Bosch,” Kroeger said. In addition, Bosch can complement its strength in the development and manufacture of semiconductors with its systems expertise in electronics and software. This allows the company to ensure the quality of its products, to continuously refine them, and to reduce costs.

Bosch MEMS Sensors

MEMS sensor module

To create a MEMS sensor module, the MEMS sensor element is packed in a semiconductor housing (e.g. LGA) together with an evaluation circuit – the ASIC.

MEMS sensors are indispensable in vehicles and electronic devices today. The first versions were used in motor vehicles as pressure sensors and accelerometer. Over time, the largest technology driver for MEMS changed from automotive applications to consumer electronics – dominated by smartphones. Beyond that, MEMS sensors have become the heart of whole classes of new devices like fitness trackers, smart watches, virtual reality glasses and smart sensor nodes for the Internet of Things (IoT).

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