6.IC makers debut 90-nm processes, but struggle at 130-nm
In 2002, several chip makers announced their new and advanced 90-nm (0.09-micron) process technologies. IBM, Fujitsu, Intel, Infineon, NEC, Samsung, TSMC, UMC, and others separately announced their respective 90-nm processes, which are expected to be in production in the second half of 2003 or in 2004.
While chip makers were announcing their 90-nm processes, most vendors were still struggling to get their 130-nm (0.13-micron) processes and chips into production.
The exception to the rule could be Intel Corp., which claims to be ramping up its chips at the 130-nm node with little or no problem. The microprocessor giant claims that more than half of its processor output is based on its 130-nm process.
But perhaps the most underreported story of the year was the ongoing and nagging yield problems at the 130-nm node, especially at the major silicon foundries. Reports surfaced during the year that Broadcom, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Via, and others were upset about their poor 130-nm chip yields at the foundries.
Leading-edge foundries--such as Chartered, IBM, TSMC, and UMC--have been struggling with the 130-nm node at one time or another. Even now, there are still some yield issues at the 130-nm node. Some foundries are shipping 130-nm parts, while others are still ironing out the bugs in the process.
The problem? Some claim it's a design issue, while others blame the problem on a new and complex cast of materials entering the manufacturing flow, such as copper and low-k.
"I believe the issue with 0.13-micron is the combination of the design and process," according to one analyst in Taiwan. "Some yield loss is due to the design, which causes the constant re-design of the mask set. On the process side, the transistor tolerance is tight, which causes a loss of yields. And the metal loop of the CVD/CMP is another issue," according to the analyst.
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