Most thermal oxidation is performed in furnaces, at temperatures between 800 and 1200°C. A single furnace accepts many wafers at the same time, in a specially designed quartz rack (called a "boat"). Historically, the boat entered the oxidation chamber from the side (this design is called "horizontal"), and held the wafers vertically, beside each other. However, many modern designs hold the wafers horizontally, above and below each other, and load them into the oxidation chamber from below.
Vertical furnaces stand higher than horizontal furnaces, so they may not fit into some microfabrication facilities. However, they help to prevent dust contamination. Unlike horizontal furnaces, in which falling dust can contaminate any wafer, vertical furnaces only allow it to fall on the top wafer in the boat.
Vertical furnaces also eliminate an issue that plagued horizontal furnaces, uniformity of grown oxide across the wafer. Horizontal furnaces typically have convection currents inside the tube which causes the bottom of the tube to be slightly colder than the top of the tube. As the wafers lie vertically in the tube the convection and the temperature gradient with it causes the top of the wafer to have a thicker oxide than the bottom of the wafer. Vertical furnaces solve this problem by having wafer sitting horizontally, and then having the gas flow in the furnace flowing from top to bottom, significantly dampening any thermal convections.
Vertical furnaces also allow the use of load locks to purge the wafers with nitrogen before oxidation to limit the growth of native oxide on the Si surface.