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The Week in Review: October 24, 2014

Friday, October 24th, 2014

IBM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES this week announced that GLOBALFOUNDRIES will acquire IBM’s global commercial semiconductor technology business, including IBM’s intellectual property, technologists and technologies. IBM will pay GLOBALFOUNDRIES $1.5 billion in cash over the next three years to take the chip operations off its hands. The cash consideration will be adjusted by the amount of working capital which is estimated to be $200 million.

Capped by last week’s announcement that Qualcomm Inc. would buy CSR PLC, the automotive semiconductor industry recently has been undergoing a wave of merger and acquisition activity that has shaken up the competitive order of the market, according to IHS Technology.

Adlyte Inc., a developer of high-brightness extreme light sources for advanced semiconductor inspection and metrology applications, announced it has reached a key performance benchmark for its extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light source for high-volume manufacturing (HVM)-readiness.

Gigaphoton Inc., a lithography light source manufacturer, announced that it has succeeded in achieving 3-hour continuous operation of its prototype LPP EUV light source at 50 percent duty cycle and 42-W output, equivalent to usage in a high-volume-manufacturing (HVM) environment.

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.17 billion in orders worldwide in September 2014 (three-month average basis) and a book-to-bill ratio of 0.94, according to the September EMDS Book-to-Bill Report published today by SEMI.   A book-to-bill of 0.94 means that $94 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month.

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.”

The Week in Review: September 26, 2014

Friday, September 26th, 2014

NANIUM announced it has successfully launched the industry’s largest Wafer-Level Chip Scale Package (WLCSP) in volume.

Pixelligent Technologies announced that it has been selected for a Department of Energy (DOE) solid-state-lighting award to support the continued development of its OLED lighting application.

Extreme-ultraviolet lithography was a leading topic at the SPIE Photomask Technology conference and exhibition, held September 16-17-18 in Monterey, Calif., yet it wasn’t the only topic discussed and examined.

SiTime Corporation, a MEMS analog semiconductor company, this week announced that it has closed $25 million in new financing, which consisted of a combination of structured debt facility of $15 million provided by Capital IP Investment Partners LLC and strategic equity investment from other investors.

Silicon Motion elected Han-Ping Shieh to its Board of Directors.

SPIE Photomask Technology Wrap-up

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Extreme-ultraviolet lithography was a leading topic at the SPIE Photomask Technology conference and exhibition, held September 16-17-18 in Monterey, Calif., yet it wasn’t the only topic discussed and examined. Mask patterning, materials and process, metrology, and simulation, optical proximity correction (OPC), and mask data preparation were extensively covered in conference sessions and poster presentations.

Even with the wide variety of topics on offer at the Monterey Conference Center, many discussions circled back to EUV lithography. After years of its being hailed as the “magic bullet” in semiconductor manufacturing, industry executives and engineers are concerned that the technology will have a limited window of usefulness. Its continued delays have led some to write it off for the 10-nanometer and 7-nanometer process nodes.

EUV photomasks were the subject of three conference sessions and the focus of seven posters. There were four posters devoted to photomask inspection, an area of increasing concern as detecting and locating defects in a mask gets more difficult with existing technology.

The conference opened Tuesday, Sept. 16, with the keynote presentation by Martin van den Brink, the president and chief technology officer of ASML Holding. His talk, titled “Many Ways to Shrink: The Right Moves to 10 Nanometer and Beyond,” was clearly meant to provide some reassurance to the attendees that progress is being made with EUV.

He reported his company’s “30 percent improvement in overlay and focus” with its EUV systems in development. ASML has shipped six EUV systems to companies participating in the technology’s development (presumably including Intel, Samsung Electronics, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, which have made equity investments in ASML), and it has five more being integrated at present, van den Brink said.

The light source being developed by ASML’s Cymer subsidiary has achieved an output of 77 watts, he said, and the company expects to raise that to 81 watts by the end of 2014. The key figure, however, remains 100 watts, which would enable the volume production of 1,000 wafers per day. No timeline on that goal was offered.

The ASML executive predicted that chips with 10nm features would mostly be fabricated with immersion lithography systems, with EUV handling the most critical layers. For 7nm chips, immersion lithography systems will need 34 steps to complete the patterning of the chip design, van den Brink said. At that process node, EUV will need only nine lithography steps to get the job done, he added.

Among other advances, EUV will require actinic mask inspection tools, according to van den Brink. Other speakers at the conference stressed this future requirement, while emphasizing that it is several years away in implementation.

Mask making is moving from detecting microscopic defects to an era of mesoscopic defects, according to Yalin Xiong of KLA-Tencor. Speaking during the “Mask Complexity: How to Solve the Issues?” panel discussion on Thursday, Sept. 18, Xiong said actinic mask inspection will be “available only later, and it’s going to be costly.” He predicted actinic tools will emerge by 2017 or 2018. “We think the right solution is the actinic solution,” Xiong concluded.

Peter Buck of Mentor Graphics, another panelist at the Sept. 18 session, said it was necessary to embrace mask complexity in the years to come. “Directed self-assembly has the same constraints as EUV and DUV (deep-ultraviolet),” he observed.

People in the semiconductor industry place high values on “good,” “fast,” and “cheap,” Buck noted. With the advent of EUV lithography and its accompanying challenges, one of those attributes will have to give way, he said, indicating cheapness was the likely victim.

Mask proximity correction (MPC) and Manhattanization will take on increasing importance, Buck predicted. “MPC methods can satisfy these complexities,” he said.

For all the concern about EUV and the ongoing work with that technology, the panelists looked ahead to the time when electron-beam lithography systems with multiple beams will become the litho workhorses of the future.

Mask-writing times were an issue touched upon by several panelists. Shusuke Yoshitake of NuFlare Technology reported hearing about a photomask design that took 60 hours to write. An extreme example, to be sure, but next-generation multi-beam mask writers will help on that front, he said.

Daniel Chalom of IMS Nanofabrication said that with 20nm chips, the current challenge is reduce mask-writing times to less than 15 hours.

In short, presenters at the SPIE conference were optimistic and positive about facing the many challenges in photomask design, manufacturing, inspection, metrology, and use. They are confident that the technical hurdles can be overcome in time, as they have in the past.

Solid State Watch: September 12-18, 2014

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
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The Week in Review: September 19, 2014

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Extreme-ultraviolet lithography systems will be available to pattern critical layers of semiconductors at the 10-nanometer process node, and EUV will completely take over from 193nm immersion lithography equipment at 7nm, according to Martin van den Brink, president and chief technology officer of ASML Holding.

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.35 billion in orders worldwide in August 2014 (three-month average basis) and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.04, according to the August EMDS Book-to-Bill Report published today by SEMI.   A book-to-bill of 1.04 means that $104 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month.

Rudolph Technologies has introduced its new SONUS Technology for measuring thick films and film stacks used in copper pillar bumps and for detecting defects, such as voids, in through silicon vias (TSVs).

Samsung Electronics announced this week that it has begun mass producing its six gigabit (Gb) low-power double data rate 3 (LPDDR3) mobile DRAM, based on advanced 20 nanometer (nm) process technology. The new mobile memory chip will enable longer battery run-time and faster application loading on large screen mobile devices with higher resolution.

ProPlus Design Solutions, Inc. announced this week it expanded its sales operations to Europe.

Mentor Graphics this week announced the appointment of Glenn Perry to the role of vice president of the company’s Embedded Systems Division. The Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division enables embedded development for a variety of applications including automotive, industrial, smart energy, medical devices, and consumer electronics.

SPIE panel tackles mask complexity issues

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Photomasks that take two-and-a-half days to write. Mask data preparation that enters into Big Data territory. And what happens when extreme-ultraviolet lithography really, truly arrives?

These were among the issues addressed by eight panelists in a Thursday session at the SPIE Photomask Technology conference in Monterey, Calif. Participants in the “Mask Complexity: How to Solve the Issues?” panel discussion came from multiple segments of the photomask food chain, although only one, moderator Naoya Hayashi of Dai Nippon Printing, represented a company that actually makes masks.

The panelists were generally optimistic on prospects for resolving the various issues in question. Dong-Hoon Chung of Samsung Electronics said solutions to the thorny challenges in designing, preparing, and manufacturing masks were “not impossible.”

Bala Thumma of Synopsys said he was “going to take the optimistic view” regarding mask-making challenges. “Scaling is going to continue,” he added.

“We are not at the breaking point yet,” Thumma said. “Far from it!” Electronic design automation companies like Synopsys will continue to improve their software tools, he asserted. Mask manufacturers will also benefit from “strong partnerships” with vendors of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, and “strong support from semiconductor companies,” he said.

“There is a lot of complexity,” he acknowledged. Still, going by past experience, “this group of people has been able to work together and solve these issues,” Thumma concluded.

To resolve the issue of burgeoning data volumes in mask design and manufacture, Suichiro Ohara of Nippon Control System (NCS) proposed the solution of a unified data format – specifically MALY and OASIS.MASK software. Shusuke Yoshitake of NuFlare Technology later said, “OASIS is gaining, but GDSII still predominates.”

Several panelists took the long-term view and looked beyond the coming era of EUV lithography to when multiple-beam mask writers and actinic inspection of masks will be required. EUV and actinic technology, it was generally agreed, will arrive at the 7-nanometer process node, possibly in 2017 or 2018. Multi-beam mask writers are also several years away, it was said.

As the floor was opened to questions and comments, consultant Ken Rygler noted that commercial mask makers have “very low margins” and asked, “How does the mask maker pay for the inspection tools, the EDA, materials?” Yalin Xiong of KLA-Tencor said the mask business is in “a tough time economically.” He added, “We have to look at where the high-end business is going. Captive [mask shops] should step up.”

ASML on EUV: Available at 10nm

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

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By Jeff Dorsch, contributing editor

Extreme-ultraviolet lithography systems will be available to pattern critical layers of semiconductors at the 10-nanometer process node, and EUV will completely take over from 193nm immersion lithography equipment at 7nm, according to Martin van den Brink, president and chief technology officer of ASML Holding.

Giving the keynote presentation Tuesday at the SPIE Photomask Technology conference in Monterey, Calif., Martin offered a lengthy update on his company’s progress with EUV technology.

Sources for the next-generation lithography systems are now able to produce 77 watts of power, and ASML is shooting for 81W by the end of 2014, Martin said.

The power figure is significant since it indicates how many wafers the litho system can process, a key milestone in EUV’s progress toward becoming a volume manufacturing technology. With an 80W power source, ASML’s EUV systems could turn out 800 wafers a day, he noted.

The goal is to get to 1,000 wafers per day. ASML has lately taken to specifying throughput rates in daily production, not wafers per hour, since many wafer fabs are running nearly all the time at present.

ASML’s overarching goal is providing “affordable scaling,” Martin asserted, through what he called “holistic lithography.” This involves both immersion litho scanners and EUV machines, he said.

Martin offered a product roadmap over the next four years, concluding with manufacturing of semiconductors with 7nm features in 2018.

The ASML president acknowledged that the development of EUV has been halting over the years, while asserting that his company has made “major progress” with EUV. He said the EUV program represented “a grinding project, going on for 10 years.”

For all of EUV’s complications and travails, “nothing is impossible,” Martin told a packed auditorium at the Monterey Conference Center.

With many producers of photomasks in attendance at the conference, Martin promised, “We are not planning to make a significant change in mask infrastructure” for EUV. He added, “What you are investing today will be useful next year, and the year after that.”

Lithography: What are the alternatives to EUV?

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

By Pete Singer, Editor-in-Chief

EUV received a recent boost with IBM reporting good results on a 40W light source upgrade to its ASML NXE3300B scanner, at the EUV Center of Excellence in Albany. The upgrade resulted in better than projected performance with 44W of EUV light being measured at intermediate focus and confirmed in resist at the wafer level.  In the first 24 hours of operation after the upgrade, 637 wafer exposures were completed in normal production lot mode. Dan Corliss, the EUV Development Program Manager for IBM, called it a “watershed moment.”

Critics, most notably analyst Robert Maire of Semiconductor Advisors, said it was “not that much of a real increase in power and certainly no breakthrough, just incremental improvement.” He adds: “We still don’t have the reticle “ecosystem,” the resist and many other components to make for viable, commercial EUV production. We are still a very long way away and this does not change the view that EUV will not be implemented at 10nm.” The 10nm node is slated to go into production in late 2015/early 2016.

Yet EUV proponents remain optimistic. Kevin Cummings, the director of lithography at SEMATECH, said “It is good news indeed to hear that IBM in conjunction with ASML has met/exceeded their projected productivity. It is clear to this industry that the EUV LPP source was not meeting the desired schedule and the source improvements timelines were over promised. However this announcement give us some confidence that we are making progress against that schedule. In addition, this milestone is significant in that it allows the wafer throughput needed to continue EUVL HVM development. With the throughputs obtained on the scanner and the recent successes from SEMATECH on zero defect mask blanks and low-dose high-resolution resists now is an excellent time to take advantage of the Albany NY based capability to develop the materials and processes that will be needed for EUVL manufacturing.”

Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec, described EUV as a cost-effective lithography approach that is “absolutely needed.” In terms of imaging performance, imec has been characterizing some of the latest hardware together with ASML and have showed very good resolution performance of 13nm half pitch and 22nm contact holes. “With double patterning, we have even demonstrated 9nm half pitch,” Van den hove said. “Who would have thought a couple of years ago that this would be realizable with lithography?”

An Steegen, senior vice president of process technology at imec, said the ideal entry point for EUV is the 10nm node (or N10 using imec’s terminology). “If you look at the cost calculation, the best entry point for EUV is actually at N10 because you can replace triple patterning layers in immersion with a single patterning layer in EUV,” Steegen said. Since that will come relatively soon with early production occurring toward the end of 2015 and in early 2016, that means that likely the whole development phase will have already been built on immersion and multi-patterning. “Likely you will see on the most difficult levels, a swap, an introduction of EUV at the most critical levels later on in manufacturing for N10,” Steegen said.

Interestingly, industry-leader Intel has said that it will not use EUV for 14nm, and even sees a path to 10nm without EUV. At the Intel Developer’s Forum in 2012, Mark Bohr, director of Intel’s technology and manufacturing group said 10nm “would require quadruple patterning for some mask layers but it’s still economical.”

FIGURE 1. Multi-patterning can achieve sub-10nm dimensions. Source: Applied Materials.

FIGURE 2. Multi-patterning adds many process steps, and cost. Source: ASML.

FIGURE 1 shows that the use of spacers can enable sub-10nm dimensions without EUV. FIGURE 2 shows multi-patterning adds to process cost and complexity.

Earlier this year, at the SEMI Northeast Forum held in North Reading, MA, Patrick Martin, Senior Technology Director at Applied Materials, talked about scaling and the rising cost and complexity of patterning. “There’s a lot of talk in the industry about how scaling is dead,” he said. I think a lot of the discussions are if we look at the current architectures entitlements – finFET related technologies that scale to 7nm and 5nm, and the complexity associated with litho, driving those types of cost models, I would have to agree. But the argument is really going to be on architecture entitlement. How the devices are going to adapt to these pattern complexity limited challenges.”

Terry Lee, the chief marketing officer for the DSM business unit at Applied Materials says continued scaling will not be driven as much by lithography, but by 3D. “Scaling used to be enabled by lithography,” he said in a presentation at this year’s Semicon West. “What we’re seeing is the move to enable scaling using both materials and 3D device architectures.” 3D devices include FinFETs, 3D NAND DRAMs with buried word lines and bit lines. These devices represent “the drive to further scale on a third dimension versus scaling using lithography on a horizontal plane,” Lee said. Appled Materials recently introduced a several new products aimed at the 3D device market, including the Producer XP Precision CVD system.

“We’re really in a dilemma when it comes to semi-related production capability,” Martin said. The device features are much smaller than the wavelength that we’re using. We’re into these complex processing related technologies that require double patterning, triple patterning, multiple patterning. The great equalizer here is EUV. If we can ever get to EUV-related manufacturing capability, it gets us to a regime where the devices are relatively the same size as the wavelength of light. The problem is that it’s been delayed. The challenge is if it doesn’t hit 10nm, we’re looking at 7nm. If we start looking at the insertion opportunity for EUV at 7nm and 5nm, we’re now below wavelength. 13.5 nm is the wavelength of EUV. The complexities associated with double patterning come back into play,” Martin added.

The EUV mask challenge

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. According to Veeco’s Tim Pratt, Senior Director, Marketing, the tools in place today are not capable of producing mask blanks with the kind of yield necessary to support a ramp in EUV. “Based on the yield today, the mask blank manufacturing capacity can’t produce enough mask blanks to support the ASML scanners that they’re planning to ship,” Pratt said. “ASML is going to be delivering some light source upgrades in the field and when those start happening, the effective total wafer throughput of EUV scanners in the field is going to multiply and there’s just not the supply of usable mask blanks to be able to support those.”

The requirement for 2015 is to have zero blank defects larger than 62nm. SEMATECH in 2012 reported work showing eight defects larger than 50nm. “A lot of progress being made but the elusive zero defects has not yet been hit,” Pratt said. Veeco, which is the sole supplier of EUV multilayer deposition tools, has plans to upgrade the existing Odyssey tool and launch a new platform in the 2017/2018 timeframe.

FIGURE 3. EUV masks are considerably more complicated than conventional photomasks. Source: Veeco.

FIGURE 3 shows an EUV mask, which is considerably more complicated than conventional photomasks.

What could derail the EUV ramp, according to Pratt, is a supply of defect-free mask blanks. “EUV is, despite many years and many dollars of investment, not yet in production. The two main gaps are the EUV light sources and the defects on the mask. As they start to make progress, people start to look more seriously at the list of things to worry about for EUV going to production.

The e-beam alternative

There are only a few alternatives to EUV and complex (and costly) mutli-patterning approaches: multi-e-beam (MEB), nanoimprint and directed self-assembly. Electron beam lithography with a single beam has been used for many years for mask writing and device prototyping, and tools available from a number of companies, such as Advantest, IMS, JEOL and Vistec.

Single-beam writing has never been able to compete with massively parallel optical systems in throughput and cost. Now, TSMC’s Burn Lin says that the time for e-beam lithography has arrived. Why? Digital electronics can affordably provide a gigabit per second data rate in a manageable space, enabling very high wafer throughput. Microelectrical mechanical systems and packaging techniques have advanced sufficiently to support a several order of magnitude increase in beam number and high-speed beam writing. And e-beam techniques generally offer higher resolution than optical systems. [1] Last year, TSMC and KLA-Tencor presented a reflective e-beam lithography (REBL) system that can potentially enable multiple-e-beam direct-write for high-volume manufacturing.

Multiple beam systems are also being developed by Multibeam Corp. (the well known David Lam is CEO), IMS and MAPPER. MAPPER was founded in 2000 by Professor Pieter Kruit and two of his recent graduates Marco Wieland and Bert Jan Kampherbeek.

What’s intriguing about e-beam direct write is that it could be used in conjunction with more conventional immersion lithography. Yan Borodovsky, Intel Corporation Sr. Fellow and Director of Advanced Lithography, calls it “complementary lithography.” He says that EBDW could be used instead of EUV to break the continuity of the grating made using 193i with pitch division. In addition to again maintaining the benefits of mature 193i on the critical layer, this solution has lower mask costs (no mask required for grating cutting and vias), and the escalating cost of the mask-making infrastructure is avoided.

He reported that EBDW could also be used instead of EUV for the complementary solution to break the continuity of the grating made using 193i with pitch division. In addition to again maintaining the benefits of mature 193i on the critical layer, this solution has lower mask costs (no mask required for grating cutting and vias), and the escalating cost of the mask-making infrastructure is avoided.

An organization that is focused on developing e-beam technology for mask writing and direct write is the E-beam Initiative (www.ebeam.org).

Nanoimprint

Step and Flash Imprint Lithography (SFIL), a form of ultraviolet nanoimprint lithography (UV-NIL), is recognized for its resolution and patterning abilities. It is one of the few next generation lithography techniques capable of meeting the resolution requirements of future semiconductor devices. Austin-based Molecular Imprints, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon, has successfully commercialized the technology. Molecular Imprints invested $165 million over the last decade on platforms, materials, templates and applications.

In 2004, Canon began conducting research into nanoimprint technology to realize sub-20nm high-resolution processes began carrying out joint development with Molecular Imprints and a major semiconductor manufacturer in 2009. Canon says NIL offers such benefits as high-resolution performance, exceptional alignment accuracy and low cost. However, others report that many integration issues such as defectivity, throughput, and overlay must be resolved before SFIL can be used for leading-edge semiconductor high volume manufacturing.

DSA is very promising

Imec’s Van den hove described direct self-assembly (DSA) as “very promising” and Steegen said work there has largely focused on reducing defectivity. In DSA, resists that contain block copolymers are deposited on top of guiding structures. The self-directed nature of the process results in very regular patterns with very high resolution.

The trick with DSA is that it requires a double exposure to take away the random patterns at the edge of the device, and the resolution needed for this “cut mask” is also very high. “We’re convinced that it’s not a replacement for EUV or any high resolution lithography technique. We are very convinced it will be used in conjunction with EUV,” Van den hove said. “It certainly keeps the pressure on EUV very high.”

Steegen described DSA as a complimentary litho technique that is having quite some momentum. The process starts with a “relaxed” guiding pattern on your wafer.  Then, depending on the polymer length in the block copolymer, the space in between the guiding structure is replicated into multiple lines and spaces. “The defectivity of these materials are going to be key to bring the defects down. Our year end target is 60 defects/cm2 and this needs to go down even further next year,” she said.

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,” Steegen said. Imec is already looking at where DSA levels could be inserted into the logic N7 flow, with fins and spacers being primary targets. Steegen said the Metal1 level would be a challenge due to its irregular pattern. “That makes it not easy to be replaced with DSA, but we’re looking into techniques to do that,” she said.

Here’s how imec summed up DSA readiness:

• Good progress in material selection and integration flow optimization for line-multiplication down to 14nm, pattern transfer into bulk Si demonstrated.

• First templated DSA process available using SOG/SOC hard mask stack.

• Focus on defectivity reduction & understanding, currently at 350 defects/cm2, YE13 target 60 def/cm2

• Alignment and overlay strategy needs to be worked out

• First N7 implementation levels identified: Finfet (replace SADP EUV or SAQP 193i) and Via (replace EUV SP/DP or 193i LE3).

Conclusion

Hopes remain high for EUV, but long delays has caused attention to shift to possible alternatives. Multi-level patterning is costly but it works; Intel, for example, says it will soon have 14nm devices in production without using EUV. Mutli-ebeam work continue apace, and we could see a role in direct write e-beam in a complementary approach with conventional lithography. 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. Some new device structures, such as vertical NAND and FinFETs, take the pressure off of lithography, but create challenges in other process areas, such as deposition and etch.

Blog review August 18, 2014

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Vivek Bakshi provides a deeper look at the ASML/IBM announcement on EUV progress. ASML and IBM reconfirmed the benchmarking in press and via social media. In short, 637 wafers per day throughput stands, resulting from the successful upgrade of source power by 100%, to its targeted level of ~43 W.

Dick James of Chipworks finally has his hands on Samsung’s V-NAND vertical flash. The vertical flash was first released in an enterprise solid-state drive (SSD) last year, in 960 GB and 480 GB versions. Then in May this year they announced a second-generation V-NAND SSD, with a stack of 32 cell layers.

Phil Garrou provides an overview of controlling warpage in packaging as discussed at ECTC by Hitachi Chemical, Amkor, Qualcomm, and imec.

Anand Sundaram, Senior Associate for PwC’s PRTM Management Consulting writes that software that controls and powers embedded devices is playing a key role in making possible the highly integrated, multi-functional ‘smart’ devices we take for granted in our daily lives – from the ubiquitous smart phones/tablet to ‘smart’ home appliances and wearable electronics.

Pete Singer posted an IoT infographic, courtesy of Jabil. The global IoT market is poised for explosive growth. By 2020, the market is expected to soar to $7.1 trillion. This infographic, courtesy of Jabil, gives an good overview of what will be connected (even garbage bins!).

Bob Smith, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Uniquify blogs that these days, chip design may seem like an intricately connected jigsaw puzzle, including small, oddly shaped interlocking pieces.

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