by Debra Vogler, Instant Insight Inc., Sunnyvale, CA
From the B-Bar, atop Moscone Center North Hall, industry executives were asked to comment about the topics they found to be compelling after the first day of SEMICON West. Here are their observations...
Bob MacKnight, President & CEO of Crossing Automation, noted the significance of Intel’s announcement that it would be investing in ASML to ensure that EUVL would be 450mm-ready. “The lithography solution was the last piece of the puzzle in order to create an equipment suite that will cover the entirety of a fab’s needs,” said MacKnight. Though he acknowledges that who will jump first into 450mm is in question, the players are well known and the consortium is moving forward. “So the industry will go that way because of all the economic benefits that the industry obtains.” He added, however, that “industry” refers to the device manufacturers. “It will have to be seen in retrospect if it’s a good move for the equipment guys, but we track with the device manufacturers and we must provide them what they need - that’s our business and that’s why we invested early.” Crossing Automation has already garnered $1M worth of 450mm business as well as some design wins at tier 1 OEMs and IDMs.
Bob Hollands, Director, Technical Marketing at ASM America, says that most of the fabless companies are introducing more and more products at 28nm ‑ and there’s more capacity available at 28nm. There is great interest in how the industry will transition to 22/20nm technology nodes and what type of 3D technologies will be used. But like many industry execs, Hollands has also seen 450mm gathering steam. The company is working on 450mm development and has delivered some initial basic systems. Echoing other suppliers’ apprehensions about the costs and timing of 450mm, Hollands characterized the company’s activities as “measured.” “Like other suppliers, we are working feverishly on plans for 450mm, but at the same time trying to understand the timing, and the expectations, and the requirements, because it is a very challenging transition,” he said.
Intrigued by another side to the 450mm saga, Simon McElrea, President, Invensas, honed in on the opening day keynote presented by Shekhar Borkar, Intel Fellow. One of the key points that was made, explained McElrea, is that there’s a lot of investment in 450mm on the front end side. “But there’s a missing back end - the assembly side,” he said. Particularly impressive to McElrea is that the industry is now starting to discuss the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. manufacturing capability for the back end. Such a level of investment would enable advanced R&D in the U.S. and help match the level of front end investment in 450mm. “3D ICs won’t happen without the business model and the model requires the co-location of IBM, GlobalFoundries, Amkor, etc.,” observed McElrea. “And [the keynote] it’s the first time I’ve actually heard people talking about making an investment in the states rather than just waiting for TSMC, or somebody overseas, to do it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a hot topic for the next year or two.”
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