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Posts Tagged ‘450mm’

Wrap-up: SEMI’s Strategic Materials Conference

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

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.”

Blog review July 21, 2014

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Matthew Hogan, a Product Marketing Manager for Calibre Design Solutions at Mentor Graphics, blogs that SoC Reliability Verification Doesn’t Just Happen, You Know. He says the best way to verify multi-IP, multiple power domain SoCs, is with the Unified Power Format (UPF), which enables a repeatable, comprehensive, and efficient design verification methodology, using industry standards, at the transistor level.

Dick James, Senior Technology Analyst, Chipworks, has a TSMC-fabbed 20-nm part in-house, and is looking forward to the analysis results. Wondering what changes TSMC has made from the 28-nm process, Dick says he expects mostly a shrink of the latter process, with no change to the materials of the high-k stack, though maybe to the sequence.

Ed Korczynski continues his theme of “Moore’s Law is Dead” with a third installment that looks at when that might happen. He says that at ~4nm pitch we run out of room “at the bottom,” after patterning costs explode at 45nm pitch.

Vivek Bakshi, EUV Litho, Inc. blogs about The 2014 EUVL Workshop which was held late last month amid some positive highlights and lots of R&D updates. The keynote talks this year were from Intel, Gigaphoton and Toshiba.

In his 201st Insights from The Leading Edge (IFTLE) blog post, Phil Garrou takes a look at some of the presentations at this year’s ConFab. Subramani Kengeri, Vice President, Advanced Technology Architecture for GlobalFoundries discussed the techno-economics of the semiconductor industry. Gary Patton, VP of IBM Semiconductor Research & Development Center addressed “Semiconductor Technology: Trends, Challenges, & Opportunities.” Adrian Maynes, 450C program manager, discussed the “450mm Transition Toward Sustainability: Facility & Infrastructure Requirements.”

Zvi Or-Bach, President and CEO of MonolithIC 3D Inc., blogs that over the course of three major industry conferences (VLSI 2013, IEDM 2013 and DAC 2014), executives of Qualcomm voiced a call for monolithic 3D “to extend the semiconductor roadmap way beyond the 2D scaling” as part of their keynote presentations.

Blog review February 24, 2014

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Paul Farrar, general manager of the G450C consortium, said early work has demonstrated good results and that he sees no real barriers to implementing 450mm wafers from a technical standpoint. But as Pete Singer blogs, he also said: “In the end, if this isn’t cheaper, no one is going to do it,” he said.

Adele Hars of Advanced Substrate News reports that body-biasing design techniques, uniquely available in FD-SOI, have allowed STMicroelectronics and CEA-Leti to demonstrate a DSP that runs 10x faster than anything the industry’s seen before at ultra-low voltages.

Dr. Bruce McGaughy, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, ProPlus Design Solutions, Inc., says the move to state-of-the-art 28nm/20nm planar CMOS and 16nm FinFET technologies present greater challenges to yield than any previous generation. This is putting more emphasis on high sigma yield.

Jamie Girard, senior director, North America Public Policy, SEMI President Obama touched on many different policy areas during his State of the Union talk, and specifically mentioned a number of issues that are of top concern in the industry and with SEMI member companies. Among these are funding for federal R&D, including public-private partnerships, trade, high-skilled immigration reform, and solar energy.

Phil Garrou finishes his look at the IEEE 3DIC meeting, with an analysis of presentations from Tohoku University, Fujitsu’s wafer-on-wafer (WOW), ASE/Chiao Tung University and RTI. In another blog, Phil continues his review of the Georgia Tech Interposer conference, highlighting presentations from Corning, Schott Glass, Asahi Glass, Shinko, Altera, Zeon and Ushio.

Pete Singer recommends taking the new survey by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) but you may first want to give some thought as to what is and what isn’t “nanotechnology.”

Blog Review November 5 2013

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

New blogs delve into the packaging technology of Apple’s A7, the road ahead for bulk FinFETs as defined by imec, with EUV is a gating factor for 450mm, split-manufacturing for U.S. trusted IC (TIC) program and Japan’s growing market for equipment and materials.

For the 10nm node and beyond, transistor research efforts are focused on high mobility designs with Ge and III-V channel, reducing VDD supply voltage as well as the subthreshold slope in transistors and optimizing multi-Vt designs. Pete Singer reports on work underway at imec in Belgium.

At the IEEE 3DIC in San Francisco Dan Radack of the Institute of Defense Analysis gave an update on the IARPA trusted Integrated Chip Program. Phil Garrou reports how it is now focused on split-manufacturing with FEOL done off-shore and BEOL done by trusted facilities in the U.S.

The A7 is manufactured by Samsung on a high-κ metal gate (HKMG) 28 nm process and the chip includes over 1 billion transistors on a die 102 mm2 in size. Phil Garrou reports on observations on the Package-on-Package (PoP) design as noted by fellow blogger Dick James. In an earlier blog, Dick described how the Apple A7 is using Samsung’s 28nm process.

Simon Favre of Mentor Graphics notes how EUV could possibly be a gating factor for 450mm. “Would you put in 450mm immersion steppers, and then yank them out to put in EUV before they’re fully depreciated?” he asks.

In advance of Semicon Japan, to be hold December 4-6 at the Makuhari Messe, SEMI’s Dan Tracy and Yoichiro Ando report that restructuring and consolidation has led to a new focus for the semiconductor manufacturers in Japan. As a result, the semiconductor equipment market in Japan will experience double-digit growth in both 2013 and 2014, driven by higher spending for memory production and in spending increases planned for the manufacturing of power semiconductors and “More than Moore” semiconductor technologies. Total equipment spending in Japan is estimated to reach $4.6 billion by 2014. Combining this with the $8 billion-plus spending on semiconductor materials, Japan represents a $12 billion market in 2014 for the suppliers of equipment and materials.

Blog Review October 21 2013

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The readiness of EUV lithography is later than hoped, but appears to be on time for insertion into the 10nm node, which is slated to go into production in late 2015/early 2016. “I’m very convinced that very soon EUV will be ready to enter manufacturing,” said Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec, as reported by Pete Singer.

In an earlier blog, Veeco’s Tim Pratt, Senior Director, Marketing, said that indeed the next major roadblock to progress in the ongoing push to develop EUV lithography for volume production is the availability of defect-free mask blanks. He said that the tools in place today are not capable of producing mask blanks with the kind of yield necessary to support a ramp in EUV.

Meanwhile, results from early work into directed self-assembly (DSA) is quite promising. DSA could be used in conjunction with EUV for the 7nm node, scheduled to go into production in the 2017/2018 timeframe. Work at imec has shown that the polymers, with a hard mask on top, are robust enough to enable the etching of the patterns into silicon. “That’s fairly new data and very promising,” said An Steegen, senior vice president of process technology at imec.

EUV readiness also been the focus of several blogs by Vivek Bakshi. Earlier this year, he predicted that 50 W sources will be ready and working in NXE3300B sometime in 2014, corresponding to 43 WPH throughput. 100 W sources will be ready in 2015 or 2016 corresponding to 73 WPH. “The readiness of 250 W EUV sources cannot be safely predicted, unless we see 100 W sources ready and have identified the issues to ensure that they are no showstoppers. I am not convinced that present approaches can get to 500 W sources. It is easy to put them on roadmaps, but delivering them is another question,” he said.

Intel is far ahead of anyone else when it comes to putting 14nm devices into production. However, even Intel finds it challenging. Speaking on a quarterly call with analysts, newly elected CEO Brian Krzanich said 14nm rollout was “about a quarter behind our projections.” He said defects were the problem. “As a result, we are now planning to begin production in the first quarter of next year,” as Pete Singer reported.

Intel already has 3D finFETs in production, and  FinFETs will likely become the logic technology of choice for the upcoming generations, with high mobility channels coming into play for the 7 and 5nm generation (2017 and 2019).

Brian Krzanich also said that Intel remained committed to the transition to 450mm wafers, saying: “We have not changed our timing. We are still targeting the second, latter half of this decade.” At Semicon Europa week, Paul Farrar, general manager of G450C, provided an update on the consortium’s progress in demonstrating 450mm process capability. He said 25 tools will be installed in the Albany cleanroom by the end of 2013, progress has been made on notchless wafers with a 1.5mm edge exclusion zone, they have seen significant progress in wafer quality, and automation and wafer carriers are working.

Phil Garrou reports on developments from Semicon Taiwan 2013 of interest to the IC packaging community. The Market Trends Forum chaired by Dr. Burn Lin of TSMC, included a report on DRAM Status (continued consolidation) by Charlie Chan of Morgan Stanley; Nicolas Gaudois Managing Director of UBS Investment Research looked at the “The End of the High End Smartphones Run,” and Dan Tracy of SEMI provided the Packaging Materials Outlook.

Key Trends at Semicon West 2013

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

By Pete Singer

At Semicon West last week (and at The ConFab a few weeks ago) some key trends were clearly evident in the semiconductor industry.

It’s apparent that the world’s appetite for electronics has never been greater. That has increasingly taken the form of mobile electronics, including smartphones, tablets and tablets and the new “phablets.” People want to watch movies and live sports on their phones. They want their mobile devices to be “situationally aware” and even capable of monitoring their health through sensors. That drives higher bandwidth (6G is on the drawing board), faster data rates and a demand for reduced power consumption to conserve battery life. At the same time, “big data” and the internet of things (IoT) are here, which drives the demand for server networks and high performance semiconductors, as well as integrated sensors and inventive gadgets such as flexible displays and human biosensor networks.

It’s also pushing the semiconductor manufacturing industry in new directions. Chip makers typically face tradeoffs between power, performance, area and cost/complexity (PPAC). For mobile devices, the push is to low power, high performance, small area and low cost.

For me, one of the main themes of Semicon West was the demand for mobile devices and how they might impact what has become standard thinking in the semiconductor industry in terms of scaling, performance, power and cost.

At Semicon West 2013, Karen Savala, president of SEMI Americas, kicked things off, noting that it was the 43rd year of Semicon West (32nd consecutive one for me personally). “While much has changed over the years, the one that has been constant is the power of our industry to continually drive innovation, to overcome technical challenges and economic challenges, and develop new processes, new materials and technologies that continue to move Moore’s Law forward,” Savala said. “2013 is no different. The industry finds itself at a critical juncture where multiple technology developments, including 450mm, FinFETs, 3D ICs, advanced materials and processes, and EUV just to name a few, promise to move Moore’s Law ahead. But as we have done before, we will address these challenges, bring new technologies to market, and continue to amaze the world with the power of our collective innovation.”

Karen then introducde the keynote, Ajit Monacha, CEO of Global Foundries, who expanded on his Foundry 2.0 concept, and talked about how the requirements of mobile devices were, in fact, changing the entire semiconductor industry. He noted that the mobile business is forecast to be double the size of the PC market in 2016. The mobile business drives many new requirements, said Manocha, including power, performance and features, higher data rates, high resolution multicore processors and thinner form factors.

This incredible growth is driving new dynamics, said Manocha, and pushing the industry to the new technology node each year, which is presenting the industry with what Manocha deems the Big Five Challenges. Manocha believes these challenges are: cost, device architectures, lithography and EUV, packaging and the 450mm wafer transition. I don’t recall when cost wasn’t an issue, but an audience poll revealed that most people believe economic challenges will be the main factor limiting industry growth, not technical challenges, so cost moves to the top of the list.

After his talk, Ajit was presented with the “SEMI Outstanding EHS Achievement Award — Inspired by Akira Inoue” by Denny McGuirk, president and CEO of SEMI. During Semicon West, SEMI also honored 14 industry leaders for their outstanding accomplishments in developing standards for the microelectronics and related industries

Part of “the buzz” at the show was the rosy prediction issued by SEMI about growth in capital equipment for next year. SEMI forecasts semiconductor equipment sales will reach $43.98 billion in 2014, a 21 percent increase over estimated 2013 equipment spending, according to the mid-year edition of the SEMI Capital Equipment Forecast, released during the show.

450mm in 2017: It’s Coming

Monday, May 27th, 2013

By Pete Singer

The switch to 450mm will likely be the largest, most expensive retooling the semiconductor industry has ever experienced. 450mm fabs, which will give an unbeatable competitive advantage to the largest semiconductor manufacturers, are likely to cost $10 billion and come on-line in 2017, with production ramp in 2018.
Unprecedented technical challenges still need to be overcome, but work is well underway at an R&D center in upstate New York, at the Global 450mm Consortium, G450C. Paul Farrar Jr., the G450C General Manager, recently spoke on the current status of activities, key milestones and schedules during a webcast produced by Solid State Technology.
“At this point, we have contracts with 12 major suppliers, and we have tools that are being delivered to the consortium starting in April and continuing through 2015,” Farrar said.
The G450C team now has over 60 engineers and assignees from the member companies. The goal is to have more than 150 engineers by 2014, with approximately 60 supplier engineers on site. “2013 and early 2014 will be about getting tools installed and up and running. Then the integration and unit process scientists will continue from there,” Farrar said.
Farrar said G450C has commitments for 112 process levels. For 45 processes, two suppliers are developing products (which equates to 90 process levels). A few have three suppliers, and about 10 process steps have one supplier. Farrar said that he sees 300mm and 450mm development continuing simultaneously. “We certainly know that for the next six or seven years, the industry will be developing and bringing capability to both 300mm and 450mm. A key goal here is to make sure that we do not slow down the scaling required for Moore’s Law to go from say 20nm to 15 to 12 to 10, etc. versus the cost reduction you get from going to a larger wafer size. We need to both of these things simultaneously as an industry,” he said. “A rough target is to get to 10nm, and then in 2016 we want to be ready for IC makers to make their decisions on when they will ramp to 450mm.”

450mm Progressing

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

By Pete Singer

One of the highlights of SEMI’s Industry Strategy Symposium held in January in Half Moon Bay, California was the first public presentation of a fully patterned 450mm silicon wafer.
Intel’s Robert E. Bruck, corporate vice president and general manager of Technology Manufacturing Engineering asked Mario Abravanel, Intel 450mm Equipment Program Manager, to join him on stage. Abravanel appeared from behind the stage, carrying the wafer with gloved hands. “It’s real,” Bruck said, noting that the wafer was patterned with 26nm features using nano imprint lithography. Bruck singled out wafer-supplier SUMCO, Dai Nippon Printing for partnering in the mask area, and Molecular Imprints for imprint technology. “It shows that a true partnership can move this thing forward,” he said. Bruck said that Intel will be producing thousands of 450mm wafers in the next few quarters for their equipment partners to use in their own equipment development.
Bruck, during his presentation, noted that fewer companies are capable of delivering Moore’s Law — and fewer capable of 450mm production. He showed that about 20 semiconductor companies have the $3-5 billion revenue “threshold” (measured in 2011 dollars) to build a 200mm fab. Only nine have revenue, in the $9-12 billion range, which is the threshold for a 300mm fab (those being Intel, Samsung, TSMC, Toshiba, TI, Renesas, ST Micro, Qualcomm and Hynix). “In 300mm configurations, there’s a much smaller group that can afford a reasonable capital cost as a percentage of revenue,” Bruck said. “If you extend this 300mm model out a few more years, anticipating the next few nodes that come, the list of participants who can afford to build these factories gets even smaller. Somewhere beyond 2015 will be a 450 number which suggests even further concentration.”
The exact timing of 450mm production was explored at ISS in a panel session hosted by Alix Partners. Chris Danely, Managing Director, Semiconductor Equity Research, JP Morgan, said: “From the Wall Street perspective, the triumvirate of Intel, Samsung and TSMC is telling us 2017. 2018 is when it starts to ramp.”

A New Era for Equipment Suppliers

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

By Pete Singer

The semiconductor equipment industry received quite a jolt recently. In July, lithography equipment supplier ASML announced a customer co-investment program that enabled minority equity investments in ASML (up to 25% total) by its largest customers. Customers could also make commitments to fund ASML’s research and development (R&D) spending for future programs.

Intel was the first investor, acquiring 15% equity ownership interest in ASML. R&D funding and equity investment agreements totaled approximately $4.1 billion. Part of the deal was a contractual commitment from Intel for advance purchase orders for 450 mm and EUV development and production tools from ASML. ASML has said the results of the technology investments will be available to every semiconductor manufacturer with no restrictions.

In August, TSMC joined in, taking a 5% stake in ASML, worth about $1.04 billion. TSMC also committed about $341 million, spread over 5 years, to ASML’s R&D programs.

The Intel announcement made instant believers out of many that both EUV and 450mm would actually happen. Both technologies have been significantly delayed beyond initial target dates, and the thinking was that some massive investment would be required to get them production-ready in a reasonable timeframe (i.e,. 2015-2020). $5+ billion is a pretty good start!

Not only does it seem to ensure that EUV will succeed, but it removed one of the most significant barriers to 450mm development. Even if 450mm solutions were developed for all the other types of process equipment — deposition, etch, ion implant, CMP, cleaning, etc. — it would be going nowhere without EUV. Now, seemingly overnight, 450mm seems inevitable.

It is a new era for semiconductor manufacturing equipment suppliers, for they must now seriously tackle the 450mm challenge, but don’t expect a blossoming new model based on customer co-investments anytime soon. There are at least two competitors in other markets, and developments will likely be funded the way they always have been — though good old-fashioned capitalism.