The NAND flash business is transitioning from the process that has been used for the past 20-odd years (let’s call it “2D”) and the new process that promises to carry the technology through the end of the decade: 3D NAND.
Trouble is: 3D NAND is bearishly tough to manufacture. This is clear from the fact that Samsung announced “Mass Production” of its VNAND rendition of 3D NAND last August, yet these chips are as rare as hen’s teeth in the marketplace today. Other companies haven’t gone so far as to announce production, and have been very conservative in their predictions of when they plan to roll out their own 3D NAND chips. Most plan to sample late this year or in 2015, and to enter production a year or so later.
Coventor tells me that they are the leading supplier of 3D modeling and simulation software for MEMS, virtual fabrication of MEMS, and semiconductors, providing software and expertise to help customers predict the structures and behavior of their designs before they commit to actual fabrication. This video attests to the company’s strengths in that area.
As it stands today, the video is a very simple 2-minute animation with no sound, running through all the steps of the 3D BiCS process without any explanation. At some future point I hope to add annotation and pauses at reasonable times so that it makes more sense to those who don’t have the process memorized. Even without this finessing, it’s a pretty compelling video to watch, and it underscores the sheer complexity of this new process.
by Pawan Fangaria
Published in SemiWiki
Ever since I started talking about Virtual Fabrication I have mostly looked at it from the manufacturers’ perspective, where it has obvious benefits to develop and model new process technology. But what about the fabless design concept and indeed even the semiconductor IP world that has spawned from it as well? It seems that Virtual Fabrication could be very effective to gain confidence in the fabrication of design by a fabless company, before it sees the actual foundry. Just think about this and in the meanwhile let’s briefly reflect on the evolution of fabless design concept.
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by Bryon Moyer
April 16, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Coventor recently released a new version of SEMulator 3D. We’ve looked at this tool before; it’s what they call a virtual fabrication platform – helpful for simulating semiconductor processes.
Featured in this upgrade is an improvement in the modeling of so-called pattern-dependent etch effects. In other words, how an etch proceeds at one spot depends on what’s around it. And looking farther out apparently makes for a more accurate simulation result, so, with this release, they’ve increased the radius that defines the region or neighborhood to be evaluated when assessing what the local layout looks like.
They’ve also sped up their etch simulation in general.
Meanwhile, they’ve more fully productized a couple of existing features. One is a structure search capability. This allows the user to find a specific structure in all of the various models. This can be particularly useful, for example, when you learn about some particular yield-impacting configuration and want to figure out which models it affects.
by Pawan Fangaria
MEMS design and fabrication is highly complex in the sense that the fabrication process heavily depends on the design, unlike IC fabrication which has a standard set of processes. A slight change in MEMS design can alter its fabrication steps to a large extent. For example, setting device parameters such as capacitance or linear displacement can affect the choice of the film thickness, etch rate, sidewall profile and so on. The design and process are so much tied together that many iterations through the fab are required (which consume costly resources and time) in order to get a perfect build. While an IDM has to keep its fab resources deployed for such a build-and-test experimentation in-house, a fabless design house has to additionally incur time for its design to take several tours through an external fab. This all has significant impact, first on cost of design and manufacturing and then turn-around-time, thus squeezing the window of opportunity which is already small in today’s competitive semiconductor market. read more…
Not everyone is sticking on the Moore’s Law path. Experts across the industry are expecting big changes, starting this year.
Last week, Semiconductor Engineering examined the 2014 predictions from several thought leaders in the industry and published those predictions that related to general market trends. Many of those predictions require some advances in semiconductor technologies and fabrications capabilities. It is those predictions that will be examined in this part, followed next week by the predictions related to design, verification and implementation tools.
There is a large amount of agreement in the industry about the macro trends for semiconductors this year. They fall into three main categories:
- Migration to new processing nodes.
- Adoption of FinFETs.
- Increasing utilization of 2.5D and 3D integration.
When we couple these with the general market trends, there could be significant changes ahead for the industry. read more…
by Pawan Fangaria
The design and manufacture of MEMS is very different and in many ways more complex process than even the most advanced ICs. MEMS involve multiple degrees of freedom (i.e. the device to exhibit different characteristics under different physical state, motion or mechanics), making fabrication of MEMS extremely complex; and hence the processes are highly customized and typically linked to particular design or device. The process flow and design parameters are highly sensitive to each other, thus requiring multiple build-and-test cycles and longer MEMS process learning cycles. And these days most of electronic devices or semiconductor designs involve MEMS integrated into them, necessitating a MEMS+IC design approach. For example, gyroscopes are being used in smartphones in big way to enhance motion detection and orientation. Given the cut-throat competition in the mobile market, with increasing feature sets and shrinking windows of opportunity, it’s critical that process learning cycles for MEMS development move from time-consuming build-and-test methods to more efficient methodologies to streamline the handoff from design to manufacturing. read more…
by Pawan Fangaria
As I see the semiconductor industry going through significant changes and advances, yet ironically plagued by a growing perception that the pace of scaling is slowing, I was inclined to take a peek into what the industry experts say about the state of the industry and the future of Moore’s Law. Fortunately, at last week’s International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM 2013), a panel discussion among an impressive lineup of experts from industry leading organizations was set up. Dr. David M. Fried, CTO-Semiconductor at Coventor, the host organization, moderated the session.