by Sandy Wen, Semiconductor Process and Integration
3D NAND Flash has become a hot topic in non-volatile memory these days. While planar NAND flash is still going strong, it has been increasingly difficult to scale planar technology past the sub-20nm lengths and meet upcoming memory cell density and cost targets. In a different approach, Toshiba published early work on 3D NAND in 2007  in which flash cells are stacked vertically to increase cell density. Since then, all major flash memory manufacturers have jumped aboard this train with their own flash architectures, and in 2013, Samsung became the first to ship “V-NAND” in the form of a solid state drive.
By Steve Breit, VP Engineering
I gave a talk with the same title as this blog at the TSensors Summit held in La Jolla, California on November 12-13. The ‘T’ in TSensors stands for Trillion Sensors and the TSensors Summit initiative is addressing the provocative question: what will it take to get to a worldwide market of a trillion sensors a year in the not-too-distant future, say 10 to 15 years from now. The TSensors initiative is being spearheaded by serial MEMS entrepreneur Janusz Bryzek who cites the book Abundance by Peter Diamandes and Steven Kotler as inspiration for TSensors. The key premise behind the book is that technology is advancing at such a fast rate, exponentially in fact, that we have the opportunity to provide abundant food, clean water, renewable energy and health care for everyone on earth within a generation. This is heady stuff, especially compared to the doom and gloom that pervades the daily news (if only political and cultural differences were as easy to resolve). Sensors of all types will play a key role in technological solutions to these pressing worldwide challenges.
By David Cook
The MEMS Executive Congress (MEC) is always a great event to mingle with the most influential people in our industry, and get a finger on the pulse of where we are heading. There are insightful talks from the heavy hitters who supply and use MEMS, interesting observations from the key analysts who track and forecast the market, and eye-opening presentations from innovative start-ups introducing novel applications for sensors and MEMS.
The clear take away from this year’s event is that sensors are at the center of huge new trend in the electronics industry. The Internet of Things (IoT), a catch-all description for any number of devices or applications that sense, capture, analyze and transmit data, is on everyone’s lips – and in their press releases. We heard discussions of Smart Everything – Smart Wearables, Smart Cars, Smart Homes, Smart Cities. And anything that enables those sorts of functions is highly dependent on MEMS and sensors. That is why there are so many charts showing hockey sticks going quickly up and to the right, predicting billions trillions of sensors being in our world soon. As the astute technology writer Kevin Morris said in his recent article, “…the proliferation of those sensors…will absolutely transform the electronics landscape again…”
By Steve Breit, V.P. Engineering
I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing over the last 6 months as we grow our engineering team. I often say that hiring is the most important part of my job and also the hardest part. Like any sensible technology company, Coventor wants to hire the best engineers we can find. Good engineers love engineering. They love to build, to create, to innovate, to solve problems. Good engineers are methodical and persistent, but also bring engineering judgment and intuition that helps them arrive at solutions efficiently. Good engineers can’t help doing engineering – it’s who they are. Over the years, I’ve observed that good engineers are way more productive than mediocre engineers. The difference in productivity can be astounding, in excess of 2 or 3X for the best engineers. The trick, at least during the hiring process, is to discern which candidates are the good engineers. You can’t just look at academic degrees, skills claimed, or work experience to tell the difference. read more…
Gunar Lorenz, PhD
Director, System Level Simulation
We just rolled out MEMS+ 5.0 with lots of new capabilities for our users. I discussed some of the new features, support of scanning mirrors in particular, in a previous post. This time I would like to focus on the new capabilities for exporting reduced order models (ROMs) of MEMS devices that system engineers can place in their Simulink schematics and IC designers can place in their circuit schematics.
Before getting into the technical stuff, allow me to provide some motivation. To design the control and signal processing electronics that go around every MEMS device, system engineers usually work in Simulink while circuit designers work in schematic entry tools such as Cadence Virtuoso. There’s a MEMS block in their flow diagram or schematic with an underlying model that captures the coupled electromechanical behavior of the MEMS device. It’s common practice to “hand craft” the MEMS behavioral model, but hand crafted models have many shortcomings: they’re usually over simplified, capturing only one degree of freedom and omitting nonlinear effects. Furthermore, it’s difficult to keep hand crafted models in sync with evolving device designs. All of these shortcomings can be avoided by using ROMs exported from MEMS+ instead of hand-crafted models.
By Steve Breit, Vice President Engineering
The CoventorWare 2014 release has been announced and is now available to customers. I presided over the first release of CoventorWare in 2001 and eight major releases since then with numerous updates in between. With each release, we added new capabilities, and capacity, speed, and accuracy improvements to address the ever more demanding requirements of our users. The new capabilities and performance improvements in each release are easy to talk about and receive all the glory. In this respect, CoventorWare 2014 is no different: the highlights are covered in our press release and a What’s New page elsewhere on our site; I won’t repeat them here. Instead, I want to talk about the steady improvements in the usability, robustness and quality of the software and the documentation. These improvements aren’t as glamorous as the shiny new stuff, but I believe they really matter to users. Our quality assurance team and our documentation team deserve a lot of credit for these improvements. They’re the unsung heroes of CoventorWare.
Semicon West is one of the iconic conferences in the semiconductor industry and annually attracts the key movers and shakers who are involved with how we are going to keep Moore’s Law moving forward, among other things. It’s known rightfully so, as a ‘big iron’ show with the top manufacturing equipment companies showing off their newest machines for the major steps in the manufacture of semiconductors – wafer processing, assembly packaging and test.
It’s not all about the equipment of course, or even just manufacturing. The show has done a good job of expanding to include a wider ecosystem of companies, products and topics that impact chip design as well. So while the majority of attendees come from companies that produce chips – foundries and IDMs – as well as the supporting production services, Semicon visitors also include the fabless companies who really aren’t in the market for manufacturing equipment. read more…
By David M. Fried
Today we officially released SEMulator3D 2014.100. Typically, I wouldn’t be so excited about a “point release”, but this is clearly the biggest interim software release in recent SEMulator3D memory. We’ve added significant capability to an already industry-leading virtual fabrication platform. Many of the features of recent SEMulator3D releases have been focused on Etch enhancements. To complement these enhancements, we’ve stepped up the predictive accuracy of several other process models in SEMulator3D 2014.100, including Deposition and CMP.
The highlight of this release is a new Visibility-Limited Deposition model. This model dramatically improves the predictive accuracy for directional depositions, like Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) and other plasma enhanced deposition processes. As with other process models in SEMulator3D, we’ve made this process simple to implement and calibrate using a reduced set of process parameters. The key features of this Visibility-Limited Deposition model are the “Source Sigma”, reflecting the directional distribution of the process, and the “Isotropic Ratio”, reflecting the non-visibility-limited component of the deposition process. This model enables a large variety of processes, with a wide range of results.