The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Samsung rolls 10nm; top IC rankings; Semicon themes; BEOL and e-beam tools.

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At an event, Samsung rolled out its 10nm finFET technology. The company also showed a 300mm wafer with 10nm finFET transistors. “We have silicon-based PDKs out,” said Kelvin Low, senior director of foundry marketing for Samsung. Samsung plans to move into production with its 10nm finFET technology by the end of 2016, he said.

IC Insights released its chip rankings in terms of sales in the first quarter of 2015. As before, Intel was in first place, followed by Samsung. The top-20 ranking includes three pure-play foundries, TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and UMC, and four fabless companies. Surprisingly, MediaTek moved into the top-10, surpassing STMicroelectronics.

The Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) has received funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create the so-called Semiconductor Synthetic Biology (SemiSynBio) consortium. SemiSynBio intersects semiconductor technology and leading edge biology—a convergence that has the potential for new energy efficient computing and information technologies. Companies that have supported the roadmap effort include Agilent, Autodesk, GlobalFoundries, IBM, Intel, Mentor Graphics, Micron, Raytheon BBN, Novati Technologies, Ginkgo Bioworks and Twist Biosciences. A number of government agencies including the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation and NIST have also expressed interest in being involved. The consortium is open to any interested party—from industry, academia or government.

GlobalFoundries is offering a 28nm high-k/metal gate radio frequency (RF) process technology that will provide power-efficient solutions for mobile applications and connected devices.

What are the big themes at the upcoming Semicon West trade show? Perhaps the rush towards the 10nm node. During a recent conference call, Gary Dickerson, president and CEO of Applied Materials, presented a bullish outlook on the fab tool market. Dickerson also says the 10nm market will be a big market for fab tools. “We’ll talk more about this at Semicon,” he said as transcribed on the Seeking Alpha Web site. “But it is a great opportunity, and there is a significant change in that device as the customers are ramping 10-nanometer, and we look at that being a great opportunity for us. In the transistor area, we have more epi steps, real strength in PVD, implant, a number of different areas, and then also the interconnect structures there will also change.”

Applied Materials has announced its Endura Cirrus HTX PVD system with breakthrough technology for patterning copper interconnects at 10nm and beyond.

Imec and Lam Research have presented a novel bottom-up prefill technique for vias and contacts. The technique, based on electroless deposition of cobalt is a highly selective method resulting in void-free filling of via and contact holes. It is a promising path for the 7nm node and below.

Lam Research has approved an increase in its quarterly dividend to $0.30 per share of its common stock.

Zeiss has launched the new MeRiT neXT system for repairing the smallest next-generation mask defects. With its low energy e-beam column, the tool represents a paradigm shift in classical photomask repair.

Vistec Electron Beam GmbH has established a show room facility in Schaumburg, Ill., to promote and demonstrate its variable shaped e-beam systems for the U.S. and North America market.

Advantest announced that Imec has selected its F7000 electron-beam lithography system for installation at their research center in Leuven, Belgium.

Worldwide silicon wafer area shipments increased during the first quarter 2015 when compared to fourth quarter 2014 area shipments according to SEMI.

Intel and Altera have resumed talks on a possible deal in which Intel could buy the FPGA supplier, according to reports.

Cree plans to spin off its power and RF unit. Cree’s power and RF subsidiary has submitted a draft registration statement on a confidential basis to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to take the unit public.