Press Coverage

Reworking Established Nodes

By Ed Sperling

New technology markets and a flattening in smartphone growth has sparked a resurgence in older technology processes. For many of these up-and-coming applications, there is no compelling reason to migrate to the latest process node, and equipment companies and fabs are rushing to fill the void.

As with all electronic devices, the focus is on cost-cutting. But because these markets are likely to generate lower volumes than mobile phones or PCs, the majority of those savings will not come from shrinking features. In many cases, these are either original designs (rather than derivatives), and the technologies are still being developed. Some are custom, some are partially custom, and most are heterogeneous. Designing and manufacturing them using finFET processes would be price-prohibitive.

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The Week In Review: IoT

By Jeff Dorsch

Coventor this week introduced its CoventorMP 1.0 platform, meant to provide a simpler, unified environment for designing microelectromechanical system devices in IoT applications. The platform brings together the company’s CoventorWare and MEMS+ design software tools. With the platform, MEMS sensors and actuators can be integrated into system-in-package components for IoT devices.

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Inside Next-Gen Transistors

By Mark LaPedus

Coventor’s CTO looks at new types of transistors, the expanding number of challenges at future process nodes, and the state of semiconductor development in China.

David Fried, chief technology officer at Coventor, sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to discuss the IC industry, China, scaling, transistors and process technology. What follows are excerpts of that conversation.

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MEMS & Sensors Industry Group Tackles Technical Challenges at Annual Technical Congress

By Sensors Staff

PITTSBURGH, PA — Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and sensors suppliers are targeting a rapidly growing global market for their devices, key components that increase the intelligence and interactivity of billions of electronic products. Despite this unprecedented growth, suppliers face shared technical challenges that limit expansion, including energy and power management, security, integration, and machine learning. MEMS & Sensors Industry Group’s (MSIG’s) 2017 MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress® (MSTC), to be held on May 10-11, 2017 on the campus of Stanford University, offers attendees a collaborative approach to resolving these shared technical challenges.

From smart homes and smartphones to wearables, robotics, drones, and connected cars, MEMS and sensors represent huge growth areas for suppliers. Yole Développement forecasts that the MEMS industry will reach $20B by 2021, which represents 8.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016-2021 for the value of MEMS markets.[i] The market for sensors is growing slightly faster. In a soon-to-be-released report, BCC Research estimates that the global market for sensors will reach nearly $240.3B in 2022, with a five-year CAGR of 11.8% from 2017-2022.[ii]

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Patterning Problems Pile Up

By Mark Lapedus

Chipmakers are ramping up 16nm/14nm finFET processes, with 10nm and 7nm now moving into early production. But at 10nm and beyond, chipmakers are running into a new set of problems.

While shrinking feature sizes of a device down to 10nm, 7nm, 5nm and perhaps beyond is possible using current and future fab equipment, there doesn’t seem to be a simple way to solve the edge placement error (EPE) issue.

EPE basically is the difference between the intended and the printed features of an IC layout. It involves patterning of tiny features in precise locations. For example, a feature could be a line, and that line has right and left edges. But in a device, the line and its edges must be precise and placed in exact locations. Then, a contact may land on that line in the device. If these are not precise and exact, that results in misalignment, or an EPE. And if one or more EPE issues crop up in the production flow, the device is subject to shorts or poor yields, which could cause the entire chip to fail.

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Inside Lithography And Masks

By Mark LaPedus

Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss lithography and photomask technologies with Gregory McIntyre, director of the Advanced Patterning Department at Imec; Harry Levinson, senior fellow and senior director of technology research at GlobalFoundries; David Fried, chief technology officer at Coventor; Naoya Hayashi, research fellow at Dai Nippon Printing (DNP); and Aki Fujimura, chief executive of D2S. What follows are excerpts of that conversation.

China: Fab Boom Or Bust?

By Mark LaPedus

China’s semiconductor industry continues to expand at a frenetic pace. At present there are nearly two dozen new fab projects in China.

Whether all these fab projects get off the ground is not entirely clear because the dynamics in China remain fluid. What is clear is the motivation behind this building frenzy—China is trying to reduce its huge trade imbalance in ICs. The country continues to import a large percentage of its chips from foreign vendors.

The Chinese government wants to produce more chips within China, and it also wants to keep closer tabs on those ICs for security reasons. As part of the plan, China has lured several multinational chipmakers to build new fabs inside its borders. For multinational chipmakers, the attraction is the ability to get closer to an enormous customer base. GlobalFoundries, Intel, Samsung, SK Hynix, TSMC and UMC all are building new fabs or expanding their existing plants in China.

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MEMS: Improving Cost And Yield

By Ed Sperling

MEMS devices inspire awe on the design side. On the test and manufacturing side, they evoke a different kind of reaction.

These are, after all, the intersection of mechanical and electrical engineering—a joining of two miniature worlds that are the basis of some of the most complex technology on the planet. But getting these devices to yield sufficiently, understanding what does or does not work, and figuring out how to do this with the kind of economies of scale that have made semiconductors affordable present some monumental challenges in the MEMS world.

read the full article here.