Monday, March 19, 2018

Samsung Electronics Topples Intel to Become World's Largest Chipmaker

The combined share of Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. in the global semiconductor market stood at 20.7 percent last year, up 5 percent points from a year earlier. Samsung Electronics surpassed Intel as the world's biggest chipmaker by market share for the first time. SK Hynix jumped two spots from the 5th, following Samsung Electronics and Intel.

According to market research firm IHS Markit on March 18, Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor division posted US$62.03 billon (66.28 trillion won) in sales last year, up 53.4 percent from 2016. The company’s market share came to 14.5 percent, exceeding Intel, which had been the world’s biggest seller of chipsets for a long time, by 0.2 percent point. Last year, Intel recorded sales of US$61.46 billion (65.61 trillion won).

SK Hynix, which has become the third largest chip manufacturer, had sales of 26.64 billion (28.46 trillion won) in total last year. Its market share stood at 5.2 percent, followed by Micron Technology Inc. with 5.3 percent, Broadcom Corp. with 4 percent and Qualcomm Incorp. with 3.9 percent

Source: BusinessKorea LINK

Picosun announces significant repeat sales of P-300F batch ALD cluster tools

ESPOO, Finland, 19th March, 2018 – Picosun Group, a leading provider of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) thin film coating technology for global industries, reports of significant repeat sales of PICOSUN™ P-300F production cluster tools to major US industry customers.

Semiconductor components manufactured on silicon and compound semiconductor wafers are crucial in several everyday consumer electronics products as well as in e.g. transport, aerospace, or industrial automation and power applications. Even if the majority of the most common IC components is produced on 300 mm silicon wafers, the sub-300-mm manufacturing is vital and increasingly important especially for the existing and emerging non-silicon-based devices. Wafer materials limited to max. 200 mm diameter such as SiC, GaN, AlN, sapphire, GaAs, LiNbO3, and LiTaO3 offer various benefits over silicon and enable a generation of completely new, advanced and innovative end products.
The PICOSUN™ P-300F ALD system is specially designed for production of IC components such as microprocessors, memories, and hard drives, and manufacturing of power electronics, mixed signal, and MEMS devices such as print heads, sensors, and microphones (LINK).

Picosun’s core competence are cost-efficient, turn-key ALD production solutions for the fast growing More-than-Moore market. The PICOSUN™ P-300F tool is the flagship product for these customers. Specially designed to be run in cluster configuration under constant vacuum to enable fast and efficient high throughput manufacturing, the P-300F tools are connected together and operated in fully automatic mode with a central vacuum robot substrate handling and transfer system. The unique batch flipping mechanism in the P-300F tool is ideal for manufacturing lines where the most of the process steps take place in horizontal geometry. Cassette-to-cassette loading for up to 50 pcs batches of 200/150/100 mm wafers, SEMI S2/S8 certification, and SECS/GEM option for factory host integration make the P-300F the optimal choice for demanding manufacturing needs for e.g. moisture barriers, capacitors, and SAW/BAW filters.

“We at Picosun are very happy of the success of our P-300F cluster tools. Our customers have obtained unparalleled process results in them, and this excellent performance has now resulted in repeat sales of these tools to our key industrial customers. The purity, uniformity, and barrier properties of the ALD films deposited in these systems fulfil the strictest requirements of today’s semiconductor industries, making the PICOSUN™ P-300F the tool of choice for the forerunners of semiconductor manufacturing,” states Juhana Kostamo, Managing Director of Picosun.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Aixtron returned to annual profit in 2017 after sale of ALD/CVD product line

[Semiconductor today] For fourth-quarter 2017, deposition equipment maker Aixtron SE of Herzogenrath, near Aachen, Germany has reported revenue of €54.1m, down 13% on €62.2m last quarter and 39.8% on €89.8m a year ago.

However, full-year revenue was still €230.4m, up 17% on 2016’s €196.5m, and slightly exceeding the guidance of €220-230m. “2017 was a good year for Aixtron, with revenues and orders at the best levels since 2011,” notes VP of finance & administration Charles Russell.

In particular, equipment revenue grew by 21% from €155.7m to €188m (rising from 79% to 82% of total revenue), while sales of spare parts & services rose by just 4% from €40.8m to €42.4m (falling from 21% to 18% of total revenue). 
Full article : LINK

Saturday, March 17, 2018

EU suspends review of Linde-Praxair merger, but should resume -Linde

BERLIN, March 15 (Reuters) - German gases group Linde said the European Commission has suspended its review of the group's merger with Praxair while it awaits requested information, but it expects the suspension to be lifted next week.

Source: Reuters LINK

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

MKS has won significant business from a Korean end-user for ALD high flow of ozone systems

Since basically the start of ALD in high volume DRAM manufacturing on 300 mm wafers, ozone has been employed as the co-reactant for ALD of hafnia and zirconia based high-k node dielectrics in the DRAM capacitor memory cell. The ozone concentration directly controls through-put, uniformity and conformalty of the deposited high-k and most importantly also the high-k dielectric performance of the layer including CET/Leakage performance and log term reliability. Please see this early post on details for these processes (LINK)

Just recently MKS Instruments reported (Seeking Alpha Earnings call transcript, LINK) that they won significant business from a Korean end-user for a high flow of ozone systems used in atomic layer deposition to fabricate DRAM memory devices. In addition, MKS reported to have just received a significant suppler award from another major Korean OEM.

MKS further stated that they have made strategic investments with a significant impact on their semiconductor OEM and end-user businesses. Amazingly, the revenue in Korea has increased 250% since 2012. In 2017 alone, their Korea end-user business grew 114%, while the Korea OEM business grew 96%.

Based on this we may assume that high concentration ozone supply i still crucial for the ALD oxide processes in DRAM manufacturing.

MKS Ozone Gas Generators

photo - SEMOZON Ozone Generator

SEMOZON® ozone gas generators and subsystems are the industry standard for compact, high concentration, ultra-clean ozone gas generation. Applications include Atomic Layer Depostion (ALD), Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), cleaning and water treatment.

Link to MKS Instrument Ozone products: LINK

MKS Instruments, Inc. is a global provider of instruments, subsystems and process control solutions that measure, control, power, monitor, and analyze critical parameters of advanced manufacturing processes to improve process performance and productivity.  The Company’s products are derived from core competencies in pressure measurement and control, flow measurement and control, gas and vapor delivery, gas composition analysis, residual gas analysis, leak detection, control technology, ozone generation and delivery, RF & DC power, reactive gas generation, vacuum technology, lasers, photonics, sub-micron positioning, vibration isolation, and optics.  MKS’ primary markets include semiconductor capital equipment, general industrial, life sciences, and research.  Additional information can be found at

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

AMEC introduces ICP Etch for memory and logic at SEMICON China

SHANGHAI, March 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- This week at SEMICON China, Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC) formally unveiled the Primo nanova® system (nanova) - the company's first inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etcher for high-volume front-end production of memory and logic ICs. The system combines proprietary ICP technology innovations and novel features to help customers achieve application imperatives like tight critical dimension (CD) uniformity and superior control. Key differentiations include a specialized symmetric chamber configuration that enables very high pumping speed, as well as a novel low-capacitive coupling coil design, and a temperature-controlled multiple-zone electrostatic chuck (ESC). With these and other unique features, the system delivers superior process performance for critical conductor and dielectric etch applications at device nodes of 5nm and below, at a cost of ownership (CoO) that is significantly lower than comparative tools.

AMEC has received orders for the nanova system from multiple customers. Products have been shipped and the first tool is already in production and demonstrating very stable yield. The company is now accelerating demo requests. The system strengthens AMEC's portfolio of etch tools which includes multi-generation capacitively coupled plasma (CCP) dielectric and TSV etch product families.

The nanova system was engineered to address today's IC manufacturing complexities where new materials, new transistor structures, double and even quadruple patterning, and other technology advancements are helping to ensure continued device shrinks. Critical success imperatives for etch in this processing environment are high uniformity and superior control across the wafer, with wide process window. The nanova system meets these technical requirements in a cost-effective single-station chamber tool.

"The nanova system deploys today's most advanced etch technology to empower customers at the leading edge with enabling innovation and exceptional flexibility," said Dr. Tom Ni, VP and GM of AMEC's Etch Product Business Group. "The system can process diverse conductor etch applications, like STI, poly-gate, spacer, mask etching and etch-back, with industry-leading productivity and superior on-wafer performance. As an ICP-based technology, it can etch deep vertical holes, as well as shallow tapered features. It's a cost-competitive solution as well, thanks to a smaller-than-average footprint and an innovative design that reduces consumables use. We're excited to see customers already benefiting from the tool."

Monday, March 12, 2018

SoLayTec ships new ALD order to Asia for PERC cell manufacturing

North American Clean Energy reports (LINK): Amtech Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASYS), a global supplier of production equipment and related supplies for the solar, semiconductor, and LED markets, announced its solar subsidiary, SoLayTec B.V., has shipped a next generation solar Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) to an Asian customer. While the PV market is shifting towards high efficiency cell designs, production with high yield, A-grade cells, is getting increasingly important.

Fokko Pentinga, CEO and President of Amtech, commented, "For this project we are delivering the equipment for the PERC line upgrade and assisting the customer with the PERC ramp-up and line integration. PV manufacturers are experiencing extreme price pressure, resulting in an increasing need for higher cell quality with narrow cell efficiency distribution. The highest line yield possible of A-grade cells is essential to ensure good margins for these advanced production lines. Al2O3 wrap-around during deposition will result in reduction of the cell efficiency by as much as 0.2%, as well as front side color variations. Our ALD equipment addresses PV manufacturers' challenges, by delivering the highest PERC cell efficiency using Al2O3,, highest A-grade cells, and stable deposition process without any wrap around. Another challenge we address for A-grade cells is scratch free manufacturing of SiNx deposition for rear-side capping and front-side ARC. Our scratch free solution using our direct-plasma PECVD equipment is gaining momentum, with shipments and order backlog totaling more than 1GW."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Applied Materials see high growth for Display business >30% growth

Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT) recently reported record revenue and operating profit in its first quarter ended January 28, 2018. Besides beeing the big giant for wafer equipment they are also in the lead for display, for TV as well as smartphone and especially for the lastets size 10.5 Gen.

According the the recent news covered by Seeking Alpha (LINK), Applied Materials is counting on revenue growth from 10.5G LCD plants and from its operations in LTPS backplanes and OLED encapsulation, primarily for the smartphone sector.

In the recent 1Q 2018 earnings call - Gary E. Dickerson - Applied Materials said: "In Display, there are two equally large market inflections driving capital investments: the introduction of Gen 10.5 substrates for TV manufacturing and organic LED displays. In mobile, the transition to OLED displays is compelling. This is because rigid OLED offers significant performance, power and cost advantages over LCD, and flexible OLED will enable new form factors, such as curved and eventually foldable screens. As a result, our positive outlook for 2018 and beyond remains unchanged. Display is a unique growth driver for Applied, and we expect to increase our revenue by more than 30% in 2018 on top of nearly 60% growth last year."
Dickerson further stated:
  • year-over-yearoutlook for Display business is greater than 30% growth, and 2019 and beyond also look very strong.
  • for mobile versus TV Applied Materials has an about 50/50 mix. In TV, they see increased adoption of larger screens and they are tracking 13 Gen 10.5 projects. As an example if you produce 65-inch TVs with Gen 10.5, you get eight 65-inch TVs per plane and only three with Gen 8.5 and driving the TV business.

Chart above from IHS (thru SeekingAlpha, LINK) shows planned equipment purchases for 10.5G quipment, install dates, and production ramp up.

Applied Materials AKT-PECVD covers the complete range of glass sizes used in the display industry from Gen 2 (0.2m2) all the way up to Gen 10 (9m2). The systems offer processes for both amorphous silicon (a-Si) and metal oxide (MOx) backplane technologies. Available films include both doped and undoped (a-Si), silicon oxide (SiOx), silicon oxynitride (SiON), silicon nitride (SiN), and in-situ multi-layer deposition. (
According to Seeking Alpha the maine cometitors for current technologies (<10.5 Gen) are :
For the TFT Backplane:
  • PECVD companies - AMAT, Jusung Engineering (Korea), and Wonik IPS (Korea)
  • PVD companies - AMAT, Avaco (Korea), Iruja (Korea), and Ulvac (Japan)
  • Laser Anneal companies – Coherent, AP Systems (Korea), Japan Steel Works (Japan)
For the OLED Encapsulation:
  • Jusung Engineering (Korea)
  • Wonik IPS (Korea)
  • TES (Korea)
These Korean companies all have ALD technologies and equipment for displays. The advantages with ALD are:
  • thin films offer better water and oxygen protection
  • a thinner film is needed to provide the same protection as thicker PECVD-coated films
  • the slower coating process by ALD is compensated by a thinner film 

Monday, March 5, 2018

OIPT delivers record number of integrated ‘Lab to Fab’ solutions

[Semiconductor Today] UK-based plasma etch and deposition processing system maker Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology (OIPT) is celebrating a year of delivering a record number of integrated solutions, enabling customers to rapidly commercialize semiconductor devices, developed using Oxford Instruments ‘Lab to Fab’ solutions.

Oxford Instruments says that many of its customers are now converting their research into commercially available devices. The key to success is to transfer the results achieved in development and pilot facilities, and repeat them every day, every month in the fabrication facility, notes the firm. OIPT reckons that, due to its installed base of R&D tools, it is ideally placed to offer this ‘Lab to Fab’ solution. 
“We’ve shipped over 600 of our high-technology process modules to leading production facilities and, with an increasing demand from the optoelectronics, power and other leading markets, our plasma process solutions are being utilized globally to achieve excellent device performance and throughput,” says OIPT’s sales & marketing director Paul Davies.
Semiconductor Today LINK

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Major suppliers have improved their 3D NAND production yield rates

Revenues of the global NAND flash industry grew only 6.8% sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to DRAMeXchange. Traditionally seasonal factors will continue to influence sales in the first quarter of 2018.

Major suppliers have improved their 3D NAND production yield rates at a gradual pace, said DRAMeXchange. On the demand side, the smartphone market entered its peak season in the fourth quarter resulting in an up to 5% sequential rise in contract prices for eMMC and UFS devices.

However, demand for PCs, tablets and servers slowed down in the fourth quarter with contract prices for related NAND flash chips stayed flat or slipped on quarter, DRAMeXchange indicated. As a result, the overall NAND flash market shifted toward an equilibrium of supply and demand in the fourth quarter of 2017,

The NAND flash market has seen a slight oversupply in the first quarter of 2018, due to a generally seasonal slowdown in end-market demand, according to DRAMeXchange. The chip suppliers will likely post revenue decreases as they cut prices to spur demand, but will be able to maintain a healthy level of profits thanks to their transitions to 64- and 72-layer 3D NAND technologies.

China to Join Hands with Intel to Develop 3D NAND against Korea

China-Intel AllianceChina's Tsinghua Unigroup is cooperating with Intel Corp. to develop 3D NAND flash memory chips in earnest. Tsinghua Unigroup supported by the Chinese government's huge amount of capital is joining forces with Intel which has technology in memory chips.

Presentation Intel 3D NAND from Intel: Bringing Amazing SSDs to the Mainstream (LINK)
According to DRAMeXchange and industry sources on March 2, China’s Tsinghua Unigroup and Intel are discussing how to work together to develop and produce 3D NAND technologies in the long term.

DRAMeXchange released its report on the 1st, saying, “According to the contract, Intel has decided to deliver wafers for NAND flash chips first before supplying 64-layer 3D NAND flash chips. With Intel’s support, Tsinghua Unigroup’s products will be able to improve not only its competitiveness in sales but also its brand awareness in the market.”

Tsinghua Unigroup and Intel are leaders that can create a remarkable synergy of capital and technology. Tsinghua Unigroup is the biggest beneficiary of the Chinese government’s plan to invest 1 trillion yuan (US$157.53 billion or 170.61 trillion won) in order to raise its semiconductor self-sufficiency rate to 70 percent by 2025. Tsinghua Unigroup’s NAND plant, which has been constructed with the investment of 26 trillion won (US$24.01 billion), will start manufacturing 32-layer 3D NAND flash chips from the end of this year and expand the facilities to significantly increase the production next year. 
Source: BusinessKorea  LINK

Thursday, March 1, 2018

China Is Raising Up to $31.5 Billion to Fuel Chip Vision

[Bloomberg, LINK] China’s government aims to raise as much as 200 billion yuan ($31.5 billion) to invest in homegrown chip companies and accelerate its ambition of building a world-class semiconductor industry, people familiar with the matter said.

The state-backed China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund Co. is in talks with government agencies and corporations to raise at least 150 billion yuan for its second fund vehicle but is angling for up to 200 billion yuan, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about a plan that hasn’t been publicized. It intends to begin deploying capital in the second half of the year, they added.

The firm will again invest in a wide range of sectors from processor design and manufacturing to chip testing and packaging, potentially benefiting industry leaders from telecoms gear makers Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. to major players such as the Tsinghua Group. The first fund -- about 140 billion yuan -- had gone toward more than 20 listed companies, including ZTE and contract chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., the people said.

Smaller chip players gained in the afternoon. Integrated circuit manufacturer Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology Co. climbed as much as 6.2 percent in afternoon trading in Shanghai, while chip packager China Wafer Level CSP Co. gained almost 5 percent.
The figure above illustrates the projected top spenders in China from 2016 to 2020. SMIC will lead the pack in fab equipment investment with its new 300mm fab projects in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen as well as 200mm investment in Tianjin.  However, the number two to number five positions are all occupied by multinationals, especially from the memory segment. Samsung will continue its phase two investment in Xian; Intel is ramping up its 3D NAND capacity in Dalian; and SK Hynix is building a new DRAM fab in Wuxi. New memory players in China will only start to increase spending in the latter half of the forecast period. Aggressive investment is also planned by leading foundries in China including GLOBALFFOUNDRIES’ Chengdu fab, Hua Li Micro’s Fab 2 in Shanghai, UMC’s Xiamen fab, and TSMC’s Nanjing fab. Compared to a year ago, the investment levels and schedules of multinational companies’ in China have become more aggressive. [SEMI, LINK]

2017 was a year of recovery in ALD business driven by 3DNAND according to ASMI

Today was the ASM International NV (OTCQX:ASMIY) Q4 2017 Earnings Conference Call for analysts. The call has been transcripeted by Seeking Alpha (LINK). All in all 2017 was a good year for ALD single wafer market and showed recovery from 2016.  Here is some important take aways from Peter van Bommel - CFO, during teh call:

  • Looking at the company's financial performance, 2017 was a year of recovery in our ALD business. In particular, driven by strong increases in the 3D NAND segment. 2017, we also successfully increased our addressable market in epitaxy as we rolled our first leading high volume manufacturing customer for our new Intrepid too. Initial cost related to new product launches impacted to the gross margin but we still increased our operating profits by 38% in 2017.
  • In terms of product lines, the key driver was our ALD business, at some distance followed, by Epi and PECVD. Our net sales in 2017 increased by 23% to a new record high of €737 million. Sales were led by our ALD product line, which continued to represent clearly more than half of our equipment revenue.

ASM earnings call slide (sceeen dump from Seeking Alpha LINK)

  • By industry segment, the revenue stream in the fourth quarter was led by memory customers, largely 3D NAND, followed by foundry. Looking at the roadmaps of our customers, the introduction of complex 3D devices structures and new materials and further scaling, will drive the need for more precise deposition of ultrathin and highly comfortable films. This place is the strength of ALD. And as a leader in the single wave of ALD market, our company remains well-positioned to capture the growth expected in this market.

Looking ahead the addressable market for single wafer ALD will grow according to Peter van Bommel since the advanced node share  (14, 10 and 7 nm) will grow to roughly 50% in revenue by 2020-2021 of the total wafer fab equipment spending, when ASM expect the single wafer ALD market to reach  USD 1.5 billion annual revenue (see graph below, Gartner Dec 2017).

ASM earnings call slide (sceeen dump from Seeking Alpha LINK

Not touched upon too much was the Large Batch furnace segment which is dominated by the competitors Tokyo Electron and Hitachi Kokusai. This segment is however much smaller than the single wafer ALD segement, maybe 70:30 ratio or so. The patent disagreement with the Hitachi Kokusai was briefly mentioned but nothing substantial was said since it is an ongoing issue (LINK).

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Apple, LG, Valve bet on OLED microdisplays technology, invest $10 million in eMagin

TechObserver reports : Maker of OLED microdisplays eMagin is getting attention from tech giants such as Apple and LG as they bet big on VR and AR for future growth. According to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission Apple, LG and Valve have made $10 million investment in eMagin.

eMagin is New York-based company that makes microdisplays used in the military, medical and industrial fields, but it has recently turned its attention to companies building consumer headsets. "We entered into strategic agreements with multiple Tier One consumer product companies for the design and development of microdisplays for consumer head mounted devices and, together with these companies, negotiated with mass production manufacturers for higher volume production capabilities," eMagin said in its filing.

Article: LINK

The company's flagship product is a 2K display with a resolution of 2,048x2,048 pixels and a 70 percent fill factor, the percentage of each pixel that can be used to gather light. (Picture from OLED-Info LINK)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Cases Closed: Veeco, AMEC, and SGL Settle Patent Litigation

Veeco Instruments Inc., Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC), and SGL Carbon SE (SGL), today announced that they have mutually agreed to settle the pending litigation among the parties and to amicably resolve all pending disputes, including AMEC's lawsuit against Veeco before the Fujian High Court in China and Veeco's lawsuit against SGL before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Source: LEDinside LINK

Monday, February 5, 2018

GlobalFoundries to Soon Pilot 7nm and EUV Production

GlobalFoundries is pushing ahead with a plan to pilot EUV and 7nm production. We recently got a chance to sit down with the company and talk about its plans for the future.

Source: ExtremeTech LINK

SK Hynix ramps up eSSDs with 72-Layer 3D NAND Flash

SK Hynix Inc. (or 'the Company', today announced that the Company recently completed developing an enterprise SATA Solid State Drive (or 'eSSD'). With its 72-Layer 512Gb (Gigabits) 3D NAND Flash chips, the Company is paving the way for its full-fledged entrance to the high value-added eSSD market.

SK Hynix combined the 72-Layer 512Gb 3D NAND Flash with its in-house firmware and controller to provide the maximum density of 4TB (Terabytes). SK Hynix makes the most of its 72-Layer 512Gb 3D NAND chips to double the biggest density of the SSD of the same size with 256Gb NAND chips.

Source: EPS News  LINK

Thursday, February 1, 2018

SMIC obtains government fund for advanced 14 nm node technology development

DigiTimes reports: China-based pure-play foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC) has obtained financial support from the government to accelerate the development of its 14nm and more advanced process technologies.

SMIC announced recently China's National Semiconductor Industry Investment Fund (known as the Big Fund) and Shanghai Integrated Circuit Investment Fund (SICIF) have made capital investments in subsidiary Semiconductor Manufacturing South China (SMSC), which will become a joint venture between the parties. The stake in SMSC held collectively by SMIC Shanghai and SMIC Holdings has therefore reduced to 50.1% from 100%, SMIC added.

SMSC was founded at the end of 2016 with a capital base of only US$210 million, SMIC disclosed. With the Big Fund and SICIF becoming SMSC's new shareholders, SMSC is able to expand its registered capital to US$3.5 billion, with the Big Fund and SICIF holding 27.04% and 22.86%, respectively, of the JV company.

Full article: LINK
This should mean a lot of ALD equipment invest for self aligned multiple pattering (SAMP) and high-k / metal gate stack, which if all goes like elsewhere should be open for a large amount of ASM International single wafer tools. In addition, Applied Materials Olympia may be in for a match in SAMP processing according to my understanding of the FEOL Logic market.  
Fab startegy from SMIC company presentation (LINK)
Established in 2000, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation ("SMIC") is one of the leading dedicated semiconductor foundries in the world and the largest and most advanced foundry in Mainland China. SMIC has the following wafer fabs (
Shanghai: one 300mm wafer fab; one 200mm wafer fab
Beijing: two 300mm wafer fabs
Tianjin: one 200mm wafer fab
Shenzhen: one 200mm fab
Italy: one 200mm wafer fab

Monday, January 29, 2018

Apple chip maker TSMC plans 5-nanometer chips for 2020, 3-nanometer in 2022

Apple’s chip manufacturer TSMC today broke ground on its first 5-nanometer fabrication facility in Taiwan, promising that 5-nanometer chips will be commercially available in 2020, with 3-nanometer chips planned for 2022. The tiny new processors will guarantee that future smartphones continue to shrink while offering superior performance and battery life to today’s models.

First shown in physical form by IBM and Samsung last June, the 5-nanometer chip process is capable of squeezing 30 billion transistors — digital on-off switches — into fingernail-sized chips, doubling or tripling the transistor counts of 10-nanometer chips. TSMC’s 5-nanometer process uses extreme ultraviolet lithography, requiring an expensive super-fine laser that has only recently become commercially viable.

Source: VentureBeat LINK

EXALOS orders Veeco's Propel GaN MOCVD platform for R&D on SLEDs

Epitaxial deposition and process equipment maker Veeco Instruments Inc of Plainview, NY, USA says that EXALOS AG of Schlieren, Switzerland has ordered a Propel gallium nitride (GaN) metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) system (for delivery in third-quarter 2018) for R&D on broadband superluminescent light-emitting diodes (SLEDs).

As a hybrid between LEDs (which emit broadband light from a surface in all directions) and laser diodes (which emit narrowband light from a waveguide with a well-defined laser beam), superluminescent LEDs emit broadband light in a highly directional beam through electrical current injection, and are used in medical and industrial imaging, motion control detectors, navigation, optical sensing and metrology applications.

Source: Semiconductor Today LINK

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sino IP Office Rules in Favor of AMEC by Rendering Veeco Instruments' Susceptorless Reactor Patent Invalid

SHANGHAI, Jan. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc. (AMEC) today announced that the Patent Re-examination Board (PRB) of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) in China, ruled on Jan. 23 that all patent claims relating to patent number ZL 01822507.1 held by Veeco Instruments Inc. (Veeco U.S.), and titled "Susceptorless reactor for growing epitaxial layers on wafers by chemical vapor deposition", are invalid. The court cited "lack of novelty and non-obviousness" for its decision.

The patent ruled invalid is the Chinese counterpart of the patents (U.S. 6506252 and U.S. 6726769) asserted by Veeco U.S. in an infringement action taken last year against AMEC's wafer carrier supplier, and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

TSMC Orders Equipment Worth T$2.7 Bln From Tokyo Electron & Applied Materials

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd :  BRIEF-TSMC Orders Equipment Worth T$2.7 Bln From Tokyo Electron, Applied Materials South East Asia

Source: Reuters

Read full article >

TSMC To Create First 5nm & 3nm SoCs In 2019/2020

According to recent reports cited by Taiwanese media outlets, chipmaker TSMC is planning to start producing of its first 5nm chipsets in 2019, and by 2020 the company intends on manufacturing its first 3nm solution. By the end of the month the tech giant will reportedly start building a new factory in the Southern Taiwan [...]The post Report: TSMC To Create First 5nm & 3nm SoCs In 2019/2020 appeared first on |.

Source: AndroidHeadlines

Read full article


Chip maker SK Hynix's 4Q net profit doubles to record high

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — SK Hynix said Thursday its fourth quarter net profit doubled from a year earlier to a record high and forecast that robust demand for chips would continue this year.
South Korea’s second-largest chipmaker said its October-December earnings jumped to 3.2 trillion won ($3 billion) from 1.6 trillion won a year earlier. Its quarterly sales and operating profit were also at the highest levels in the company’s history. Quarterly sales surged 69 percent to 9 trillion won ($8.5 billion) while operating profit more than doubled to 4.5 trillion won ($4.2 billion).

Read full article

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Alkane - Hafnium product breakthrough consolidates Dubbo Project business case

Alkane - Hafnium product breakthrough consolidates Dubbo Project business case.

  • Alkane’s wholly owned subsidiary, Australian Strategic Materials Ltd (ASM), has developed high‐purity hafnium dioxide products tailored to meet market requirements.
  • Hafnium oxide exceeding 99.8% HfO2, and 99.9% (Hf+Zr)O2, has been produced using a proprietary process to separate hafnium from zirconium at the demonstration pilot plant at ANSTO.
  • Over the past 12 months, ASM has consulted extensively with industry to confirm growing market demand for high‐purity hafnium, which currently depends on supply from the production of zirconium metal for specialty alloys and the nuclear industry.
  • Global shortage of hafnium anticipated as demand is poised to outstrip current supply.
  • Hafnium metal for super alloys is currently trading in a US$800 ‐ $900/kg range. The ASM business case assumes a conservative product price of US$500/kg for its oxide.
  • ASM will initially produce 25tpa hafnium to meet projected market demand, ramping up to higher quantities as required.

Download : Download (PDF, 718KB)

Development of high‐purity hafnium dioxide

Australian Strategic Materials Ltd (ASM), a wholly owned subsidiary of Alkane Resources, has successfully developed a high‐purity hafnium dioxide (HfO2) product that will be directly marketable as a feed material for a number of downstream applications and for producing metallic hafnium. The technical specifications of this material have been tailored to meet global market requirements, following extensive industry consultation over the past 12 months. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Picosun to provide 300 mm ALD cluster tool for STMicroelectronics Power Semiconductors

ESPOO, Finland, 16th January, 2018 – Picosun Oy, a leading supplier of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) thin film coating technology for global industries, partners with STMicroelectronics S.r.l. to develop the next generation 300 mm production solutions for advanced power electronics.

Power electronic components are right at the heart of many core elements of our society, where energy saving, sparing use of natural resources, and CO2 emission reductions are called for to provide for sustainable future. Energy production with renewables such as wind and solar, clean transportation with electric vehicles and trains, and industrial manufacturing with energy-smart power management and factory automation are key markets where the demand for advanced power components is increasing.

Most power semiconductor industries use 200 mm wafers as substrates. Transfer to 300 mm enables more efficient, ecological, and economical production through larger throughputs with relatively smaller material losses, and adaptation of novel manufacturing processes such as ALD allows smaller chip sizes with increased level of integration.

As a part of the funded project R3-POWERUP (*), Picosun’s PICOPLATFORM™ 300 ALD cluster tool will be optimized and validated for 300 mm production of power electronic components. The SEMI S2 certified PICOPLATFORM™ 300 cluster tool consists of two PICOSUN™ P-300S ALD reactors, one dedicated for high-k dielectric oxides and one for nitrides, connected together and operated under constant vacuum with a central vacuum robot substrate handling unit. The ALD reactors are equipped with Picosun’s proprietary Picoflow™ feature which enables conformal ALD depositions in high aspect ratios up to 1:2500 and even beyond. Substrate loading is realized with an EFEM with FOUP ports. The fully automated cluster tool can be integrated into the production line and connected to factory host via SECS/GEM interface.

“Our PICOPLATFORM™ 300 cluster tools have already proven their strength in conventional IC applications, so expansion to the power semiconductors is only natural. We are very pleased to work with a company such as STMicroelectronics to tailor and validate our 300 mm ALD production solutions to this rapidly growing market. This is also a prime opportunity both to contribute to the future of European semiconductor industries, and to utilize ALD to provide technological solutions to the global ecological and societal challenges such as climate change and dwindling natural resources,” summarizes Juhana Kostamo, Managing Director of Picosun.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

MPD Chemicals Acquires Specialty Chemical Manufacturer Norquay Technology

Norqay Technology, a company with more that 30 years experience in organo metallic precursors for ALD and CVD has just been acquired by MPD Chemicals. Please find press release below.

TREVOSE, Pa., Jan. 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/MPD Chemicals (MPD), a US-based manufacturer of specialty chemicals and custom synthesis solutions, announced today the expansion of its manufacturing capabilities, product portfolio and customer base with the acquisition of Norquay Technology, Inc. (Norquay). Located in Chester Pennsylvania, Norquay is the fourth acquisition to be integrated into the MPD Holdings platform, an Addison Capital portfolio company; existing MPD businesses include Monomer Polymer & Dajac Labs, Silar, and IsoSciences.

Norquay is a specialty chemical manufacturer with over 30 years of expertise in providing the scale-up and production of advanced proprietary custom materials, including organometallic, inorganic and organic molecules. Norquay’s product line includes chromic, electronic, catalyst, ligand, medical adhesive and UV performance products, with a customer base that ranges from startups to large multi-national corporations.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Osram orders multi-reactor Propel HM and K475i MOCVD systems from Veeco for high-volume photonics and LED applications

Epitaxial deposition and process equipment maker Veeco Instruments Inc of Plainview, NY, USA says that Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH of Regensburg, Germany has ordered a multi-reactor Propel High-Volume Manufacturing (HVM) gallium nitride (GaN) metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) system, as well as K475i MOCVD systems. 

The K475i system incorporates Veeco’s Uniform FlowFlange technology, producing films with very high uniformity and improved within-wafer and wafer-to-wafer repeatability with what is claimed to be the industry’s lowest particle generation for demanding applications like photonics and advanced LEDs.  

Source: Semiconductor Today LINK

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Fabless IC Company Sales Top $100 Billion for First Time Ever

Fabless IC Company Sales Top $100 Billion for First Time Ever.

Lam Research and Tokyo Electron took market shares in 2017

Currently the fabs are running hot and expanding and 2018 is expected to continue to grow according to OEMs and market research companies like o VLSI Research (CEO Dan Hutcheson, see below). Solid State Technology reports, based on recent market research by The Information Network (LINK) that Market leader Applied Materials lost market shares in 2017 to the main competitor Tokyo Electron and Lam Research.

"Applied Materials 1.3 share points, dropping from 28.2% in 2016 to 26.9% YTD (year to date). Gaining share are Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL), which gained 2.4 share points while rising from 17.0% in 2016 to 19.4% in 2017 YTD. Lam Research gained 1.6 share points and growing from a 19.0% share in 2016 to a 20.6% share in 2017 YTD."

The three companies compete in the following areas with huge growth due to the memory boom in 2017 (3DNAND and DRAM):

  • conductor and dielectric etch equipment
  • deposition equipment - single/multiwafer ALD and CVD
CVD equipment share is roughly 3X that of ALD and ALD passed PVD in 2015 (according to VLSI Research). Furnace ALD and CVD is dominated by Tokyo Electron and Kokusai, however it is a smaller segment as compared to single and multi wafer ALD and CVD. ASMI, the leader in ALD single wafer equipment does not seem to have been able to grow with memory, down from 2.0% to 1.7%.

Please find the full article here: LINK


Friday, January 5, 2018

Memory chips led the way in 2017 boosting a 22% record semiconductor growth in revenue

Memory chips (DRAM & FLASH) led the way in 2017 boosting a 22% record semiconductor growth in revenue. Samsung Electronics became the number 1 in overall semiconductor sales for the first time, displacing Intel, which had held the top spot in sales every year since 1992. 

EE Times reports : Semiconductor sales grew by 22 percent to reach a record $419.7 billion — with memory chips leading the way — according to a preliminary estimate by market research firm Gartner.

Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) estimates that increased sales of memory chips due to shortages of NAND flash and DRAM accounted for about two-thirds of overall chip market growth in 2017. Memory also become the single largest semiconductor products category last year, according to the firm.

Full story: LINK

Gartener 2016 to 2017 revenue change for Top 10 Semiconductor companies [replotted]

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Get back to work - SEMI projects continued boom in fab equipment spending for 2018

MILPITAS, Calif. ─ January 2, 2018 ─ The year-end update to the SEMI World Fab Forecast report reveals 2017 spending on fab equipment investments will reach an all-time high of $57 billion. High chip demand, strong pricing for memory, and fierce competition are driving the high-level of fab investments, with many companies investing at previously unseen levels for new fab construction and fab equipment. See figure 1.
World Fab Forecast Figure 1
Figure 1

The SEMI World Fab Forecast data shows fab equipment spending in 2017 totaling US$57 billion, an increase of 41 percent year-over-year (YoY). In 2018, spending is expected to increase 11 percent to US$63 billion.

While many companies, including Intel, Micron, Toshiba (and Western Digital), and GLOBALFOUNDRIES increased fab investments for 2017 and 2018, the strong increase reflects spending by just two companies and primarily one region.

ALD NanoSolutions Prepares particle coating CVR for Factory Installation

Here is some ALD news for Boulder Colorado just before the Holiday Season (teaken from their excellent e-mail News letter) - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the ALD experts in Boulder and elsewhere! 

  • ALD NanoSolutions Prepares CVR for Factory Installation
  • ALD Nano’s Coated Materials were on the International Space StationInternational
  • Organization for Standardization (ISO) Compliance for ALD-Coated Commercial Powders 
As reported in a previous edition of the ALD NanoSolutions Enews (see ALD Nano Enews: Vol. 2, Issue 3), the company announced commercial-scale validation of its continuous ALD reactor system equipment for particles. 

ALD NanoSolutions Prepares CVR for Factory Installation

As reported in a previous edition of the ALD NanoSolutions Enews (see ALD Nano Enews: Vol. 2, Issue 3), the company announced commercial-scale validation of its continuous ALD reactor system equipment for particles. The key aspects of that article are in italics below:

The scientific, process development and engineering teams at ALD Nano have spent considerable resources over the past few years rapidly developing this first-of-its-kind technology from research scale, bench-top to the current commercial-scale systems. A continuous vibrating reactor, or CVR, provides ALD coating capacity of more than three tons per day and 1,200 tons per year of particle materials. These techniques gained from equipment development open up new pathways for ALD Nano's growth. The CVR is a spatial ALD reactor system and can also be utilized for MLD techniques, run at atmospheric or pressurized conditions, and fitted with various features such as plasma.

The company is scheduled to install the first of its CVR reactor systems, second-generation design, in a commercial advanced materials coating production facility in the US in Q1 2018. An important milestone to compliment this type of state-of-the-art progress at the ALD Nano facility in Broomfield, Colorado. Additional CVR reactor systems are to be installed in other commercial materials production facilities over the next few years. Let us know if you have an ALD coating need for advanced materials that requires this level of scale.

Aveni extends copper interconnects to 5nm and below for BEOL integration employing ALD TaN & CVD Co barrier/seed

Recently at IEDM 2017 IBM announced that copper is here to stay and can continue to be scaled for the future back end of line (BEOL) interconnects - 20 Years of Cu BEOL in Manufacturing, and its Future Prospects (Invited), D. Edelstein, IBM TJ Watson Research Center (LINK)

Before the actual copper plating process, the advanced dual-damascene structures for interconnects employ two very important conformal deposition processes :
  • an atomic layer deposition tantalum nitride (ALD TaN) copper diffusion barrier
  • a thin chemical vapor deposition cobalt (CVD Co) liner
More detailed information on Cobalt CVD for barrier/seed and selective encapsulation of copper from the leader Applied Materials can be found here (LINK).

According to a press release below (LINK), Aveni has announced it has obtained results that support the continued use of copper in the BEOL for advanced interconnects, at and beyond the 5nm technology node. Aveni is a French developer and manufacturer of wet deposition technologies and chemistries for 2D interconnects and 3D through silicon via packaging. The company was originally founded in 2001 as a spinoff from the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) to develop and market groundbreaking nanometric deposition technologies for a variety of electronic applications.  

MASSY, France – Dec. 12, 2017 – aveni S.A., developer and manufacturer of market-disrupting wet deposition technologies and chemistries for 2D interconnects and 3D through silicon via packaging, today announced it has obtained results that strongly support the continued use of copper in the back end of line (BEOL) for advanced interconnects, at and beyond the 5nm technology node.

HHV launch ALD System based on technology transferred from IIT Bombay

Hind High Vacuum Co. Pvt. Ltd. (HHV), a vacuum science and technology company with major clients like HAL, ISRO, BARC, Titan etc, announced the launch of its first indigenously developed Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) System based on technology transferred from IIT Bombay. This tool was developed entirely by HHV’s Thin Film Technology Division out of its Bengaluru facility as a part of the company’s on-going ‘Make in India’ initiative.

A picture of the ALD 150 system, which seems to be a top loaded tool very similar in layout to e.g. a CNT Savannah. Judging by the name this is a 150 mm system (picture from HHV webpage)

Full story: HHV develops Atomic Layer Deposition System based on technology transferred from IIT Bombay

Press release: LINK

Link to HHV ALD product page: LINK

General Motors and Forge Nano has co-developed ALD technology for lithium batteries

According to recent news releases General Motors and Forge Nano has co-developed and been rewarded for ALD for lithium battery technology featuring:
  • ultrathin (thickness < 5nm) multifunctional hybrid coatings and processes.
  • solutions to critical issues involved with gas generation, manganese dissolution induced capacity loss and safety issue associated with polymeric separators.
  • scale-up production and commercialization of this innovation for both automotive and non-automotive applications.
  • semi-continuous ALD systems (the tall pilot-scale stack, as well as the large single-cycle stack), have the production capacity of more than 1 MT/day, making it possible to implement the advanced surface coating technologies into the next generation of lithium ion batteries.
Background information:

LOUISVILLE, CO - Forge Nano, Louisville, Colorado, recently won a 2017 R&D 100 Award as co-developer with General Motors for the development of the Ultrathin Multifunctional Hybrid Coatings and Processes. The R&D 100 Awards have served as an innovation awards program for the past 55 years, honoring great R&D pioneers and their revolutionary ideas in science and technology.

“Forge Nano was founded with a vision to deploy precision nano-coatings to make many other technologies safer, less expensive and more efficient. That vision is now a reality, and it is extremely gratifying to be honored by the R&D 100 Awards for introducing one of 2017’s most innovative and influential technology solutions,” said Forge Nano Founder and CEO Dr. Paul Lichty, who accepted the award at the R&D 100 Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Forge Nano launched in 2013 with breakthrough technology that makes nano-coatings fast, affordable and scalable in manufacturing. The company specializes in nano-coatings and atomic film deposition, serving functions from corrosion resistance to electrical insulation or conduction. As demands for next-generation materials become more and more extreme, nano-engineered surface coatings can fulfill the need for enhanced properties and precise characteristics.

The R&D 100 Award - Ultrathin multifunctional hybrid coatings and processes (LINK)

The majority of battery failure initiates from active material surfaces in the electrodes. Surface coatings, as an effective mitigating strategy, have been widely applied into battery material manufacturing process to protect active materials. Conventional coating technologies, such as chemical vapor deposition, physical vapor deposition and wet chemistry, typically generate non-uniform coating particularly on nano-sized particles. The thickness control becomes difficult, and the thicker coating typically induce high much impedance. To tackle this challenge, General Motors—a pioneer in applying surface coating using the Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technique—has developed several Ultrathin multifunctional hybrid coatings and processes. These ultrathin (thickness < 5nm) multifunctional coatings solve critical issues involved with gas generation, manganese dissolution induced capacity loss and safety issue associated with polymeric separators. Forge Nano has developed the technologies that enable scale-up production and commercialization of this innovation for both automotive and non-automotive applications. Their semi-continuous ALD systems (the tall pilot-scale stack, as well as the large single-cycle stack), have the production capacity of more than 1 MT/day, making it possible to implement the advanced surface coating technologies into the next generation of lithium ion batteries.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Amtech Announces Follow-On Order for Next Generation Solar ALD for PERC Cell Line

TEMPE, Ariz., Dec. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Amtech Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASYS), a global supplier of production equipment and related supplies for the solar, semiconductor, and LED markets, today announced its solar subsidiary, SoLayTec B.V., has received a follow-on order for three next generation solar Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) systems. The order is expected to ship and be installed in this fiscal year. As a leading ALD supplier in the market, SoLayTec has booked a total of 25 ALD system orders since its inception, of which 15 will be used in mass production.

Depending on the capacity levels that are needed, SoLayTec offers three types of InPassion ALD. The main difference is the number of deposition units modules added in such a system. The basic three products offered are 4, 6 or 8 deposition units, which result in 2,400 wph, 3,600 wph or 4,500 wph respectively. (
Fokko Pentinga, CEO and President of Amtech, commented, "This follow-on order brings the total ALD tools ordered by this specific customer to seven. Four systems have been put in production of PERC solar cells in the second half of fiscal 2017. The orders SoLayTec has received from this particular customer represent a total of 1GW of PERC production capacity. This follow-on order validates our customer's confidence in the performance capabilities of our spatial ALD system in high-volume production of PERC solar cells. There is a high level of enthusiasm in the PV marketplace for PERC solutions and this manufacturing platform supports our customers' goals to improve the total cost of ownership by increasing cell efficiency."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

KKR Completes Tender Offer for Hitachi Kokusai

TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Global investment firm KKR and Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc. (“Hitachi Kokusai” or the “Company”; TSE stock code 6756) today announced the completion of a tender offer by HKE Holdings G.K. (the "Offeror"), an entity owned by KKR investment funds, for the common shares of Hitachi Kokusai (excluding the 51.67% of its shares that are owned by Hitachi, Ltd. (“Hitachi”). Approximately 25.55% of the common shares have been tendered through the tender offer and will be acquired by the Offeror.

In connection with the tender offer, the Offeror has entered into an agreement (the “Agreement”) with Hitachi, the lead shareholder in Hitachi Kokusai, and HVJ Holdings Co., Ltd., (“HVJ”), an entity backed by funds managed/ serviced by Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. (“JIP”). Under the terms of the Agreement, following a share consolidation after the tender offer, Hitachi Kokusai will acquire Hitachi’s 51.67% holding of Hitachi Kokusai’s common shares in a share repurchase. Thereafter, Hitachi Kokusai will conduct an absorption-type company split pursuant to which the Offeror will succeed to 100% of the Company’s Thin-Film Process Solutions business. Subsequently, the Offeror will transfer 20% of the shares of Hitachi Kokusai to each of Hitachi and HVJ, resulting in 60%, 20%, and 20% ownership of Hitachi Kokusai’s Video and Communication Solutions business for the Offeror, Hitachi and HVJ, respectively.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Picosun Oy and Ushio Inc. start collaboration in Japan

ESPOO, Finland, and TOKYO, Japan, 6th December, 2017 – Picosun Oy, a leading supplier of advanced Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) thin film coating solutions, and Ushio Inc., a leading manufacturer of light sources and optical equipment, have started collaboration to boost the sales of Picosun’s ALD technology in the Japanese market.

Japan has long been one of Picosun’s most important market areas, where the demand for industrial ALD solutions is constantly increasing. In order to always guarantee first-class service to the esteemed customers in the area, Picosun Japan Co. Ltd was established as Picosun’s local subsidiary. Now, to extend this sales and service network even further, Picosun has decided to collaborate with Ushio, with Ushio working as its sales representative. Ushio is a well-known, well-established supplier of a wide variety of manufacturing equipment to the global semiconductor market, and Picosun’s fully automated, SEMI-compliant, and production line compatible industrial ALD systems will be a key addition to their portfolio.

China's Focus Lightings orders Veeco EPIK 868 MOCVD systems for LED production

Epitaxial deposition and process equipment maker Veeco Instruments Inc of Plainview, NY, USA has received an order for multiple TurboDisc EPIK 868 gallium nitride (GaN) metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) systems, to be shipped to the manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China of Focus Lightings Tech Co Ltd for the production of high-volume light-emitting diodes for general lighting and display applications (adding to its existing installed base of Veeco systems).
Source: Semiconductor Today LINK

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Picosun provide ALD Cluster Tool to Swedish MEMS Foundry Silex Microsystems

ESPOO, Finland, 29th November, 2017 – Picosun Oy (Finland), Silex Microsystems AB (Sweden), and Pegasus Chemicals Ltd (UK) have joined forces to develop and provide novel ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) solutions and processes for MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) industries. The aim of the collaboration is to realize emerging, advanced MEMS structures that would not be possible to manufacture by any other thin film deposition methods.

Today, MEMS are crucial components in several everyday applications such as mobile phones, cars and in various sensor systems. In addition to these already vast markets, the rapidly spreading Internet-of-Things with its billions of independently communicating electronic devices is a huge driving force to accelerate MEMS industry’s exponential growth in the very near future. 

This is Silex Microsystems (Promotion Viedo from Youtube)
In the Picosun-Silex-Pegasus collaboration, a PICOSUN™ ALD cluster platform is installed at Silex’s MEMS foundry in Järfälla, Sweden. The platform consists of a fully automated, factory integrated cassette-to-cassette vacuum robot for substrate handling and a PICOSUN™ P-300F ALD reactor capable of coating up to 25 pcs 8” wafers in a batch. The installed reactor can deposit various metal oxides, metal nitrides, and pure metals on up to tens of thousands of wafers per month (*). Pegasus develops and manufactures the precursor chemicals required for the ALD processes and provides the technical support and delivery options for individual applications. The cluster platform can be later upgraded with two additional ALD reactors. In the collaboration, engineers and scientists from all three partners work together to solve existing problems in MEMS processing, as well as to develop completely new openings on how to realize novel MEMS devices.

“We have been working with Picosun since 2010 and now with this project we can bring our collaboration to a completely new level. We are very excited to have the PICOSUN™ ALD cluster platform in our cleanroom. It enables us to develop novel, production-proven ALD solutions for our customers in advanced MEMS applications,” says Dr. Niklas Svedin, Vice President of Engineering at Silex Microsystems. 
“This is a valuable project for us, as the use of ALD in MEMS processing is increasing very fast. We have already strong presence in the MEMS market, but new applications come up weekly and we want to keep our spearheading position in this development. Now in the SALADIN project we have partners with whom we can also test and develop new ideas of our own how ALD could be implemented in the MEMS process flow,” continues Mr. Juhana Kostamo, Managing Director of Picosun. 
“The MEMS industry is a fast-growing market and it is very interesting for us to be involved in the process of introducing the groundbreaking ALD cluster platform to it. We are eager to be in the frontline of the chemical development for this field and focusing on advanced MEMS applications,” summarises Dr. Paul Williams, Technical Director of Pegasus Chemicals. 
Picosun Oy (LINK)
Silex Microsystems (LINK)  
Pegasus Chemicals (LINK)

(*) Throughput calculated for 10 nm Al2O3, 90% system uptime.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The 7nm race by TSMC and Samsung - EUV or not EUV

According to industry sources on October 19, Samsung Electronics is considering a plan to purchase 10 extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tools from the Netherlands-based ASML, the biggest semiconductor equipment maker in the world. To put tha in perspective - ASML believes that it can produce about 12 EUV lithography tools this year. It is the only company that manufactures EUV lithography tools in the world.

Sales in ALD and Etch equipment have been boosted by multiple patterning technologies based on Immersion lithography, both for Logic/Foundry and Memory. Maybe as much as 1/3 of the single/multi wafer ALD equipment market is patterning related. The last two years or so analyst have been busy trying to figure out the impact on deposition and etch equipment sales if/when EUV is introduced. Here is a recent take down by Seeking Alpha (LINK). My view is that scaling is based on symbiotic use of the latest technologies and multiple patterning and EUV will co-exist and keeping the scaling path alive. In addition, scaling opens new opportunities for ALD, ALEtch and future use of selective growth technologies with atomic scale precision. According to recent reports the ALEtch market segment is now considerd an actual segment by itself and has entered HVM (LINK).
Fudzilla reports: Korean based ETNews has mentioned that Qualcomm 7nm manufacturing has been a big win for TSMC while two other US and China customers chose Samsung’s 7nm. TSMC traditionially have dibs on Nvidia and MediaTek according to the report.

Qualcomm and Broadcom, according to the report are designing their next generation chips with TSMC’s7-nano PDK. The reason why Qualcomm went with 7nm with TSMC is the fact that the fab uses normal steppers while Samsung wants to make its 7nm with more bold and riskier EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) photolithography technology.

View of Samsung Electronics’ Hwasung 17 line. It is expected that Samsung Electronics will build a new 7-nano plant on a nearby site according to ETNews.

Samsung is expected to be later to the 7nm game and early adopters had to go with TSMC. EUV is still technology that is not entirely ready for the mass market and there is a disagreement weather you should need to use Extreme Ultraviolet light manufacturing with 7nm or first with 5nm. Obviously the two main fabs disagree while GlobalFoundries cooperates and shares technology with Samsung, and will have Samsung to rely upon for 7nm.

Full article: Qualcomm 7nm made by TSMC [LINK]
ETNews original source: Samsung Electronics Close to Securing Two New Customers for Its 7-Nano Foundry[LINK]
Business Korea: Keeping Leadership in 7-nano Era Samsung Electronics Seeks to Buy Up Next-gen Semiconductor Mfg Equipment