SEMI’s Strategic Materials Conference was held September 30-October 1, 2014, in Santa Clara, CA at the Biltmore hotel.
By Karey Holland, Techcet Group
The 2014 Strategic Materials Conference was very well attended. There were people from several of the leading IC makers as well as suppliers of equipment and materials to the fabs. Unfortunately, the audio and video systems were not stellar, so we had to endure some ear shattering system noise, and any light image was not visible on the screens. Otherwise, the venue was good. Throughout the conference, several themes were repeated.
Focus on the stability we hope for in post 2013 times, but concern about volatility and uncertainty of the world economics, esp. the recession-like growth numbers in Europe and Japan expected for the next few years. While forecasters (Gartner, IC Insights, VLSI Research, Linx, Techcet Group and others) anticipate IC wafer starts growing at ≥6% CAGR over the next 5 years, there is concern that any number of geo political world problems could throw us back into a global recession. Attendees had a greater concern than the presenters over the possibility of a future recession, and that the impact would be greater to IC industry now due to the entrenchment of mobile platforms.
Focus on cost of lithography as a driver for increased cost of leading edge MCUs/MPUs … with current nodes, multi-patterning requires many more expose/develop/dep/etch steps than EUV, but EUV has not yet met the requirements for manufacturing implementation. It is likely that EUV will first be used for only a few critical layers. DSA (directed self-assembly) may be used also for a few selected critical layers, but issues of defects will likely keep it from use in many layers.
Focus on the expected (and currently numerous options) for advanced devices and implications for materials. This includes advanced packaging technologies.
450mm wafers may continue to slip, if the other large IC makers (e.g. TSMC, Samsung, GlobalFoundries) don’t agree with Intel on first implementation date/node. Collaboration across the entire ecosystem was stressed for 450mm to become a reality.
Below are things I found particularly interesting in the presentations and/or at the end of day panel discussions.
The key note presentation, “Materials Innovation for the Digital 6th Sense Era,” was by Matt Nowak of Qualcomm. He discussed both the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT), the required IC devices (including analog & sensors) and implications to materials (and cost to manufacture) from these new IC devices; a perfect start to SMC 2014. Qualcomm defines the Digital 6th Sense Era is “the augmentation of human ability”, or as Sue Davis put it “intelligent data based extension of our 5 senses ==>to a 6th“. Essentially this is where the ability of the IoT/IoE data feedback can act as our 6th sense by capturing data about one & one’s environment which results in prediction/information being shared based on data collection and/or user selections regarding the environment around us (or about us, e.g., tele-health).” Because the smartphone is the “most pervasive platform ever” (US Android users average 106 Apps launched/day), it can serve as a remote connection to the IoT world … be that monitoring our health, schedules, honey-do lists, and improving our understanding and enjoyment of the world around us. For advanced logic one might expect, lithography for advanced ICs (quad patterning vs EUV) were discussed as key cost drivers. Other required/expected advanced materials include high mobility channel materials and thin barrier metals (likely Co). Beyond CMOS, new structures and materials may be required to support sensors (bio, chemical, fluidic), nano batteries, piezo, thermal, and solar harvesters.
Mark Thirsk, Linx-Consulting, reviewed IC growth and lack thereof for past years, and observed that 2014 will be “first good year in 8 years” (since 2006), and forecast 6-8% CAGR for the next few years – strongly dependent on the success of the IoT. IC market growth since 2010 correlates strongly to GDP since 2010, and thus regional GDP differences (e.g. the current European recession) are reflected in IC demand. Technology challenges & opportunities in for the next 5+ years include advanced logic (3D NAND, and new memory method after 2018), numerous AL (atomic layer) processes, 3D / advanced packaging, patterning efficiency, and complexity. The electronic materials landscape is changing: the supply chain is merging, and there are new entrants (esp. from Korea, Taiwan & China) in advanced materials such as photoresists. Interestingly, China appears to be focusing more on investing in fabless than fabs.
Duncan Meldrum, Hilltop Economics, said that the current subdued market growth (3% 2013-16) is due to more fiscal responsible people. China & Asia are growing 4 to 7.7%, US & Latin America about 2.1 to 3.1, Euro <2%, and Japan ~1.5%. The tax increase in Japan is having a very negative impact. He expects the US to see a 5% year over year improvement (very good news) with our investments finally growing in 2nd half of 2014. He anticipates healthy, but not stellar consumer spending through 2016.
Patrick Ho, Stifel Nicolas, initially discussed that for companies that follow Moore’s Law, that it is increasingly Fab capital intensity (Capex) with addition of FinFETs, new materials (e.g. High k), 3D NAND, and Multi-Patterning (from delayed EUV). One can assume this will continue to be the case as CMOS devices moves from Si channel to replacement channel filled with SiGe, Ge, or III-V and memories move to new technologies such as ReRAM, STTRAM, etc. His observation is that only Intel is pulling for 450mm, and if TSMC & Samsung don’t exert more pull, 450mm may not happen (esp. in light of the negative impact to equipment revenue per square inch of silicon). The top 4 OEMs (ASML, KLA-T, Lam, AMAT) are large enough to push back on the top 3 IC makers, and that consolidation is continuing. Patrick noted that all 4 top OEMs have dividends, and he anticipates that they will eventually get better valuations. He showed a nice list of companies he thinks are acquisition candidates (CMC, Nanometrics, Nikon, Nova, Axcelis, Rudolph, Veeco, FormFactor, and Ultratech). Other comments: Moore’s law lives, but is under stress. Innovation w/ or w/o EUV will bring industry back to Moore’s Law. Changing landscape will help economics of leading players.
Ross Kozarsky, who leads Lux Research’s advanced materials team, discussed the longer range materials he investigates such as graphene, 3D printing, and Meta-materials. Graphene film sheets are of interest for transparent conductive materials (e.g. touchscreens), possibly moving to FETs & sensors. 3D printing has been around 30 yrs; today it’s used mostly for prototyping, but manufacturing use makes sense and could really increase total growth. Multifunctional and multi-materials printers will be needed. Autonomous cars are now a big growth opportunity, opening great opportunity for chemical and material companies to innovate.
Geraud Duboix, IBM Almaden, develops porous low k materials for interconnect passivation and their integration (esp. plasma damage). In the 0.65 to 0.1um timeframe, interconnect RC delay was slowing devices even though the transistors were getting faster, and thus began the drive for lower k insulators. The ITRS has been showing the need for lower k since its inception, but it also has pushed out the date of the more aggressive low ks. Initially to achieve lower k, C and F were added to SiO2 to break-up network structure. Today, they are driving low k down by adding porosity. Once a big concern, Geraud said that ULK mechanical properties are now no longer a concern with UV treatment, the lowest k being integrated is 2.3-2.4, and new low k materials are emerging. Geraud is working on porous low k materials, to achieve lower k, and larger pores deliver lower k. He discussed the various pore-sizes in evaluation, the importance of porogens (material in the low k deposition that is later removed to create pores) and methods being used to seal the created pores (especially before conformal barrier metal deposition). Interestingly, he commented that creating and sealing the larger pores is somewhat easier, although he’s being asked to work on the smaller pores for now. During the panel discussion Mansour Moinpour (Intel) asked why Geraud was working on smaller pores that are more difficult to fill. Geraud responded that for the designers insulators with 2.0 or 1.8 k would be too big a change and they want 2.4 and 2.2 first.
Todd Younkin, from Intel’s central research (components) novel materials group, discussed that the industry will continue CMOS Scaling through 7nm. As stated by others, lithography is a challenge and using several methods to accomplish patterning, while productivity and pattern placement (alignment) are concerns. Intel is working on devices with channels of higher mobility materials that Si (III-V or MoS2) as well as beyond CMOS (e.g., GAA) devices. Todd said that early in device research development, Intel works to make sure manufacturing should be capable of meeting cost expectations. These include the cost of multi-patterning versus EUV, ultra-low k interconnect materials, etc.
Angela Franklin, of TriQuint (recently renamed Qorvo) discussed the challenges of supply management (and unlike others, she projects well when talking, so we could avoid the audio system problems … thanks Angela!). Angela educated the audience about Qorvo devices (some look more like MEMS with permanent epoxy “cavity” structures that resonate w/ the RF) which are significantly different from the leading edge logic and non-volatile most of us follow. Unlike the device manufactures that use Si, Qorvo uses smaller substrates of III-V and GaN. Many films are already on the substrates when purchased. The fab process is very solvent intensive, and only 1/3 aqueous. Unlike others, Qorvo uses significant eBeam lithography with up to 28 different resists and many negative resists, as well as metal lift-off (my first job at IBM >30 yrs ago).
Prof. Philip Wong of Stanford gave his typical dynamic and mind-stretching presentation. His discussion was focused on the single digit nodes, and the possible new channel materials for logic (III-V or 2D MoS2, MoSe2, WSe2, WTe2 or ??) and possible new devices, including carbon nanotube FET (CNFET), STTRAM, CBRAM, ReRAM (using HfOx, TaOx, TiOx). He said that memory chips will hold 32Tbits. He then smiled and said “none of this before the next 10 years”. He showed some exciting interleaved memory and logic ideas using a base of 2D or 3D FETs, topped by STTRAM, then 2D or 3D FETs, and then 3D RRAM. Because the interconnects of the bottom device are present, all processing for the others must be at low temperature (<400C).
Discussion Panel. When asked about collaboration with materials suppliers, Intel and IBM research had significantly different responses. Intel invests dollars and works with graduate students on advanced projects and hopefully a “lucky accident” brings advances. IBM research mentioned that legal issues often get in the way of collaboration with suppliers.
Notes for SMC Day 2 2014 Blog
Tim Hendry, from Intel’s supply management team started off day 2. A large concern he brought up was what he described as the widening connections between fab, material suppliers, and sub-suppliers. He then discussed the concerns and possible ways to improve connections, as well as the importance of metrology and verification of chemical quality. Unfortunately, some of the sub-suppliers are very big chemical companies that have difficulty getting excited about the low volume materials used to make ICs. He finished up by saying that Intel is focused on controlling the costs of manufacturing that require close partnerships with materials suppliers. Intel is driving for unprecedented collaboration among the materials and sub tier suppliers to achieve cost, performance and defect targets. The cost of packaging and shipping materials globally is driving investigation into new operating models to cut costs.
Dennis Hausmann of LamRC/NVLS discussed ALD/CVD in more details than others. For Each CVD/ALD step, an average of $2-$3/wafer is added to manufacturing cost, while only about $1/wafer of this is for chemistry+power+exhaust management. He reviewed at least 4 versions of ALD tools (furnaces to single wafer) and said that there is a “right ALD tool” for the right deposition job. He said that single wafer tools with proper development can meet same throughput as batch furnaces. However, if you look at the development cost, single wafer tools are much better in cost. For depositions that improve with plasma ALD, single wafer tools also make sense. An important observation by Dennis was that for ALD, sometimes it is the unknown contaminant that “makes it go”. This is something that has been observed in the past of copper plating chemistries, as well as some CMP slurries.
James ONeil, CTO Entegris had an interesting title, which should fit most suppliers “Accelerating yield in a disruptive environment”. James emphasized that suppliers need meaningful process discussions, insights & collaboration with their customers.
Adrienne Pierce of Edwards introduced SCIS collaboration to most of us. This is a supply chain collaboration working group. Some topics are tracing defects origins and BKMs for specific process (e.g. ALD).
There were then two parallel sessions; one on advanced memories and the other on 3D packaging. In the memory session, Norma Sosa of IBM talked about PCRAM (phase change memory, which Micron has been shipping for a few years now), Mark Raynor, Matheson, discussed RRAM for Non-Volatile, and Suresh Upa, SanDisk, discussed packaging implications.
After the breakout, we had presentations from four materials supplier companies. The four same very similar things. Dave Bern of Dow Chemical discussed using the “right tool” for collaboration and the importance of making sure suppliers agree to work in areas that fit their “core competencies”. Wayne Mitchel of Air Products noted that ICs are only 2% of GDP. He agreed with Dave Bern that suppliers should only agree to work (partner) with customer on areas within expertise, otherwise it takes too much time and money to execute successfully. Jean Marc Girard, Air Liquide discussed the numerous risks of supply chain, from the sub-supplier, the environment (e.g. earthquakes), and materials stability (or lack thereof). Kevin O’Shea of SAFC Hitech emphasized that taking materials from a catalog of low volume and ramping to IC manufacturing needs is not trivial, and may also not be consistent with the materials manufacturer (the sub-supplier, or company that is “primary” in the materials).
The day 2 Panel discussion had more audience participation. Some discussions I found particularly interesting are discussed below.
Tim (Intel) said the gap is getting wider between Intel, suppliers, sub-suppliers (esp. customs for IC industry). The large sub-supplier that doesn’t have an interest in moving forward – there is no motivation to increase metrology, metrics, etc. The shrinking sub-supplier base isn’t good for our industry – reduction in cost per bit comes from shrinks and reuse of capital, not only lower cost materials..
Kurt Carlson said that sub suppliers don’t think IC fabrication is the best industry – the IC industry wants more and more, yet wants to pay less and less. It’s not worth it to us (good sub-suppliers leave because it’s too costly for the small volumes).
Jean Marc said they don’t want to duplicate development costs, if they don’t need to; they would rather use universities and share on things like toxicology.
Dave said it costs millions of dollars to test materials, like EUV.
Mansour Moinpour asked about collaboration on liquid particle, GCMS, and similar – can we have joint & consistent measurements across the industry? James Entegris responded that end user need to be drivers. Jean Marc suggested that maybe SEMI standards could drive a standard of industrial analytics.
The value of roadmaps was very different to the various participants, however the idea of regulatory alignment and a roadmap related to this was generally thought to be useful.
The question of cost and logistics … there are some materials that require shipping a lot of water, which adds cost. Intel said that they are getting into more cost sensitive mobile market and they may be driven to this rather than exact materials copy in near future. Tim said the Intel CEO is “hell bent” that Intel will make money in the mobile market. “Intel will pull it off.”