Silicon Wafers: M&A, Price Hikes


Chipmakers need to keep a close eye on the silicon wafer industry, as the business continues to undergo a number of changes. On one front, the silicon wafer industry continues to consolidate. Then, after years of suffering from an oversupply and falling prices, many silicon wafer vendors are experiencing tight supply and have begun to raise prices. Silicon wafers are a fundamental part of... » read more

Ruthenium Liners Give Way To Ruthenium Lines


For several years now, integrated circuit manufacturers have been investigating alternative barrier layer materials for copper interconnects. As interconnect dimensions shrink, the barrier accounts for an increasing fraction of the total line volume. As previously reported, both cobalt and ruthenium have drawn substantial interest because they can serve as both barrier and seed layers, minimizi... » read more

Memory Market: More Than ASPs At Risk


By Adrienne Downey and Jim Feldhan In June 2016, the memory market emerged from its slump after reversing its 12-month ASP decline. Since then, we’ve seen a strong rebound for ASPs in both DRAM and NAND. Contributing to this recovery was the increasing demand in memory content per device across all end markets combined with a more controlled capital investment over the past several years.... » read more

What’s Changing At BACUS


Jim Wiley, president of SPIE BACUS, talks about this year's merger of the EUV Lithography Symposium and the SPIE Photomask Conference—including what's new and different, the latest updates on the event location, and topics to look forward to such as EUV mask inspection—as well as his predictions on machine learning. https://youtu.be/GNxUmMAU9zs » read more

Silicon Photonics: Solving Process Variation And Manufacturing Challenges


As silicon photonics manufacturing gains momentum with additional foundry and 300mm offerings, process variation issues are coming to light. Variability in silicon processing affects the waveguide shape and can result in deviation in effective indices, propagation loss, and coupling efficiency from the intended design. In this article, we will highlight process variation issues that can occur i... » read more

Planes, Birdhouses And Image Recognition


My recent blog post on the limits of neuromorphic computing took an optimistic view: even neuromorphic systems that are relatively crude by the standards of biological brains can still find commercially important applications. A few days after I finished it, I was reminded that the pessimists are not wrong when a friend of mine shared this image. Fig. 1: Trover Gourds in purple martin nest... » read more

Can A Supply Chain Be Too Efficient?


The semiconductor industry is a model of efficiency—literally. When other industries look at adding smart manufacturing into their operations, they often look to chip manufacturing as a shining example. After decades of business gyrations, semiconductor companies have figured out how to instill efficiency into every aspect of making chips. This is evident in device scaling. At 90nm, the co... » read more

5 Takeaways From Semicon


At the recent Semicon West trade show in San Francisco, there were a multitude of presentations on a number of subjects. The event, sponsored by SEMI, had presentations on the outlook for ICs, equipment and packaging. Clearly, though, the show is much smaller with fewer attendees, as compared to past years. Most of the big companies no longer have booths. Hardly any have press events or med... » read more

Pessimism, Optimism And Neuromorphic Computing


As I’ve been researching this series on neuromorphic computing, I’ve learned that there are two views of the field. One, which I’ll call the “optimist” view, often held by computer scientists and electrical engineers, focuses on the possibilities: self-driving cars. Homes that can learn their owners’ needs. Automated medical assistants. The other, the “pessimist” view, often hel... » read more

Toward Smarter Manufacturing


Semiconductor manufacturing is becoming increasingly competitive as significant investments in capital equipment are required to meet consumer demand for higher performing devices with greater functionality. To boost their competitiveness, chip makers are adopting Industry 4.0 manufacturing techniques to achieve higher levels of operational excellence. In this blog, I explain Industry 4.0, prov... » read more

← Older posts