How much does it cost to ship 1cm^2 of silicon?

I’ve been trying to figure out how much (approximately) it costs to ship 1cm^2 of silicon from public data. Public costs for 300mm wafers seem to be largely unavailable. I’ve seen costs of 400USD for a unprocessed wafer, 500USD for a processed wafer under an older process, to several thousand dollars under leading edge processes. But no official pricing.

In order to get some kind of citable reference I decided looking at commodity ICs, of known area might give some indication of the costs associated with the production of a packaged IC. In particular I decided to look at image sensors where gross margins appear to be relatively low (20 to 30%) [1].

So, I extracted all image sensors with pricing from digikey [2]. I used the listed pixel size and array size to estimate the size of the die (actual die size is no doubt slightly larger than this, but hopefully this is good enough to give a reasonable estimate).

I then used the die size to calculate the cost per mm^2, and the cost per cm^2. The plot below shows a histogram of the calculated cost per cm^2:

As you can see there’s a peak around 40/50USD. The cheapest part, that has some stock works out at 52.12USD per cm^2.

The cheapest cost per cm^2 was 12.88USD [3], however this part is not in stock, and on 14 week lead. I suspect that the part is not actually available.

So, based on this rough estimation I’d guess that a cost per cm^2 of ~40USD isn’t completely ridiculous (given the relatively low margins for these low cost image sensors).

Notes

[2] www.digikey.com (US). Random selection of awk used:

cat CA.csv | grep -v Obs | grep -v Discon | grep -v Last | grep -v Active | grep -v “,-,” | grep -v “,-” > CAS.csv

awk ‘BEGIN{FS=”,”;}{print \$3 }’ CAS.csv | awk ‘{print \$1 ” ” \$3}’ | sed “s/[^0-9. ]//g” > pixsize

awk ‘BEGIN{FS=”,”;}{print \$3 }’ CAS.csv | awk ‘{print \$1 ” ” \$4}’ | sed “s/[^0-9. ]//g” > arraysize

awk ‘BEGIN{FS=”,”;}{print \$1 ” ” \$2 ” ” }’ CAS.csv > tp

cat CAS.size | grep -v Reel > CAS.size_nr

awk ‘{print \$1 ” ” \$2 ” ” ((\$3/1000)*\$5)*((\$4/1000)*\$6)}’ CAS.flat > CAS.size

awk ‘{print \$1 ” ” \$2 ” ” \$2/\$3 ” ” (\$2/\$3)*100}’ CAS.size_nr | sort -n -r -k 4 > CAS.calc

cat CAS.calc | awk ‘{print \$4/10}’ | awk ‘BEGIN{FS=”.”}{print \$1}’ | awk ‘{print \$1*10}’ | uniq -c | awk ‘{print \$2 ” ” \$1}’ > hist.csv

Files: data

[3] OV07726-G04A-ND Unit cost 1.425USD for 2276 units. 6um pixels, 640 by 480 array.

[4] AR0330CM1C00SHAA0-DP1-ND 2304H x 1296V 2.2µm x 2.2µm, 7.85USD for 152 units.