Challenges Grow For Finding Chip Defects


Several equipment makers are developing or ramping up a new class of wafer inspection systems that address the challenges in finding defects in advanced chips. At each node, the feature sizes of the chips are becoming smaller, while the defects are harder to find. Defects are unwanted deviations in chips, which impact yield and performance. The new inspection systems promise to address the c... » read more

Magnetic Memories Reach For Center Stage


Wearable heart rate sensors. Networked smoke detectors. Smart lighting. Smart doorbells. While desktop computers and even smartphones are powerful standalone tools, Internet of Things devices share a need to collect data from the environment, store it, and transmit it to some other device for action or further analysis. In many systems, data storage and working memory account for the majorit... » read more

Using Machine Learning In Fabs


Amid the shift towards more complex chips at advanced nodes, many chipmakers are exploring or turning to advanced forms of machine learning to help solve some big challenges in IC production. A subset of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, uses advanced algorithms in systems to recognize patterns in data as well as to learn and make predictions about the information. In the fab, ... » read more

Mixed Picture Seen For EUV Masks


The confidence level of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography continues to grow as the technology moves into production, but the EUV mask infrastructure remains a mixed picture, according to new surveys released by the eBeam Initiative. The EUV mask infrastructure involves several technologies that are in various stages of development. On one front, the outlook for several mask tool technol... » read more

Advanced Packaging Options Increase


Designing, integrating and assembling heterogeneous packages from blocks developed at any process node or cost point is proving to be far more difficult than expected, particularly where high performance is one of the main criteria. At least part of the problem is there is a spectrum of choices, which makes it hard to achieve economies of scale. Even where there is momentum for a particular ... » read more

GaN Versus Silicon For 5G


The global race to launch 5G mmWave frequencies could provide a long-anticipated market opportunity for gallium nitride (GaN) as an alternative to silicon. GaN is more power-efficient than silicon for 5G RF. In fact, GaN has been the heir apparent to silicon in 5G power amplifiers for years, especially when it comes to mmWave 5G networks. What makes it so attractive is its ability to efficie... » read more

The Next New Memories


Several next-generation memory types are ramping up after years of R&D, but there are still more new memories in the research pipeline. Today, several next-generation memories, such as MRAM, phase-change memory (PCM) and ReRAM, are shipping to one degree or another. Some of the next new memories are extensions of these technologies. Others are based on entirely new technologies or involve ar... » read more

Wanted: More Fab Tool Part Standards


As chipmakers ramp up the next wave of processes and grapple with how to reduce defect levels, they are encountering problems from an unlikely source—components inside of the fab equipment. Defects are unwanted deviations in chips, which impact yields and device performance. Typically, they are caused by an unforeseen glitch during the process flow. But a lesser-known problem involves defe... » read more

Cloudy Outlook Seen For IC Biz


After a slowdown in the first half of 2019, chipmakers and equipment vendors face a cloudy outlook for the second half of this year, with a possible recovery in 2020. Generally, the semiconductor industry began to see a slowdown starting in mid- to late-2018, which extended into the first half of 2019. During the first half of this year, memory and non-memory vendors were negatively impacted... » read more

Node Within A Node


Enough margin exists in manufacturing processes to carve out the equivalent of a full node of scaling, but shrinking that margin will require a collective push across the entire semiconductor manufacturing supply chain. Margin is built into manufacturing at various stages to ensure that chips are manufacturable and yield sufficiently. It can include everything from variation in how lines are... » read more

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