Press Coverage

Inside Process Technology


By Mark Lapedus

Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss the foundry business, memory, process technology, lithography and other topics with David Fried, chief technology officer at Coventor, a supplier of predictive modeling tools. What follows are excerpts of that conversation.

SE: Chipmakers are ramping up 16nm/14nm finFETs today, with 10nm and 7nm finFETs just around the corner. What do you see happening at these advanced nodes, particularly at 7nm?

Fried: Most people are predicting evolutionary scaling from 14nm to 10nm to 7nm. It’s doubtful that we will see anything really earth-shattering in these technologies. And so, a lot of the challenges come down to patterning. We are going to see multi-patterning schemes really take hold at more levels. For example, the fins are now based on self-aligned double patterning. People will move into self-aligned quad patterning. The gates are maybe self-aligned double. Now, they will move into self-aligned quad. So, that’s going to be a big expense, because each level is going to have multiple passes and multiple cuts.

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Multi-Beam Market Heats Up

se_logoBy Mark Lapedus

The multi-beam e-beam mask writer business is heating up, as Intel and NuFlare have separately entered the emerging market.

In one surprising move, Intel is in the process of acquiring IMS Nanofabrication, a multi-beam e-beam equipment vendor. And separately, e-beam giant NuFlare recently disclosed its new multi-beam mask writer technology.

As a result of the moves, the Intel/IMS duo and NuFlare will now race each other to bring multi-beam mask writers into the market. Still in the R&D stage, these newfangled tools promise to speed up the write times for next-generation photomasks, although there are still challenges to bring this technology into production.

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MEMS Grand Challenge Debuts

ee-timesBy R. Colin Johnson, EE Times

LAKE WALES Fla.—Simplfying and popularizing microelectromechanical system (MEMS) design is the goal of the MEMS Design Contest announced yesterday (March 16) at the conference titled Data Automation and Test in Europe (DATE 2016, March 15 to 17, Dresden, Germany). More specifically, the contest encourages chip designers to add MEMS blocks to a chip design, using tools designed for the purpose.

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems, Coventor, X-FAB and Reutlingen University, the contest will feature a special process design kit (PDK) that the winners will use to fabricate their MEMS chip at X-Fab. If interested attend the DATE session Launch of the Worldwide MEMS Design Contest.

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7nm Lithography Choices

se_logoBy Mark Lapedus

Chipmakers are ramping up their 16nm/14nm logic processes, with 10nm expected to move into early production later this year. Barring a major breakthrough in lithography, chipmakers are using today’s 193nm immersion and multiple patterning for both 16/14nm and 10nm.

Now, chipmakers are focusing on the lithography options for 7nm. For this, they hope to use a combination of two technologies at 7nm—extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, and 193nm immersion with multi-patterning.

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The Sensor Swarm Arrives

By Tom Kevan, Desktop Engineering

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It all started with smartphones and airbags. Design engineers began to integrate sensors in growing numbers into such systems to enable smarter performance. These applications mark the prelude to what Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, a professor at University of California, Berkeley, describes as a “sensory swarm” — a flood of heterogeneous sensors interfacing the cyber and physical worlds. By 2025, experts predict that the swarm could number as many as 7 trillion devices.

One of the first stages in the realization of this sensor-dominated world, the Internet of Things (IoT) requires technologies that can take on smaller form factors and operate on miserly power budgets. In their search to find sensing devices that can meet these requirements, designers have turned to micro-electromechanical systems, or MEMS. Before they can take full advantage of the miniaturization the technology offers and expand its role in the marketplace, engineers must be able to bridge the gaps between the MEMS, analog and digital design worlds. To do this, they will require a new set of tools.

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What’s the Next-Gen Litho Tech? Maybe All of Them

semimd_logoBy Jeff Dorsch

The annual SPIE Advanced Lithography symposium in San Jose, Calif., hasn’t offered a clear winner in the next-generation lithography race. It’s becoming clearer, however, that 193i immersion and extreme-ultraviolet lithography will co-exist in the future, while directed self-assembly, nanoimprint lithography, and maybe even electron-beam direct-write technology will fit into the picture, too.

At the same time, plasma deposition and etching processes are assuming a greater interdependence with 193i, especially when it comes to multiple patterning, such as self-aligned double patterning, self-aligned quadruple patterning, and self-aligned octuple patterning (yes, there is such a thing!).

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Directed self assembly may offer similar benefits to EUV, process modeling study says

By Luke Collins, Tech Design Forum

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Directed self assembly (DSA) techniques may offer similar advantages in terms of process variation control as EUV lithography, according to a study carried out using 3D behavioral process modeling techniques.

This could reduce fab cycle times, ease process integration and save costs in advanced semiconductor processes, especially for DRAMs, whose regular structures are well-suited to the use of DSA.

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Coventor ASML IMEC: The last half nanometer

By Scotten Jones, SemiWiki
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On Tuesday evening December 8th at IEDM, Coventor held a panel discussion entitled the “The Last Half Nanometer”. Coventor is a leading provider of simulation software used to design processes. This is my third year attending the Coventor panel discussion at IEDM and they are always excellent with very strong panels and discussion. The panel was made up of David Fried CTO of Coventor, Alek Chen from ASML, Aaron Theon of IMEC, and Subramanian Iyer from UCLA. Subramanian acted as both a panelist and the moderator.

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