Even the mightiest manufacturer can't go it alone anymore. IBM's recently developed dual-stress liner approach to strained-silicon technology came about through collaboration with its process development partners, said Paul Farrar Jr., who manages process development at IBM Corp.'s semiconductor R&D center in Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
When IBM was mulling over strained silicon, Farrar said, "we got the PFET approach, but we were thinking about how to do the NFET, and one of our partners had an answer. We might have got it eventually without the partner, but in my gut I believe we wouldn't have gotten there without the partner's ideas." IBM works on process development with AMD, Chartered, Infineon, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
In a remarkable admission, Farrar acknowledged that previous partnerships foundered because of arrogance on the part of IBM. Ten years ago,"if we had gotten paid by the amount of ego we had at IBM, we all would have been millionaires," Farrar said in a keynote speech at an International Sematech conference last week.
Now, process technology development is "a team sport," Farrar said. "Now, we have a little humility, and we at IBM believe that we have to really listen, because the best idea is the one you get from someone else."