SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Semicon West trade show starts next week, but the craze
has already begun.
Fab tool vendors EV Group, Intermolecular, Qcept, Vantage and Verigy have
already announced product introductions or deals before the show. Vantage is a
startup in the fab tool arena.
Applied, Lam, Novellus and others are readying tools for use in emerging 3-D
chip designs. Applied is expected to enter the MOCVD segment with a hybrid tool.
Semicon West runs from July 13-15 in San Francisco, Calif.
At Semicon, the hot topics will include 3-D devices, LEDs, solar, and, of
course, chip scaling. And unlike last year's event, the fab tool market is hot.
IC-equipment sales are now expected to grow 96 percent in 2010, compared to 83
percent in the previous upgrade, according to VLSI Research Inc.
At Semicon, Applied Materials Inc. is expected to roll out its long-awaited,
hybrid MOCVD tool. ''We believe that AMAT will formally announce a LED tool
during Semicon. AMAT has been working with at least six vendors and has
recognized revenue from at least one of the vendors, likely for its hydride
vapor phase epitaxy tool,'' said C.J. Muse, an analyst with the Barclays
Capital, in a recent report.
''AMAT is likely to introduce a cluster tool with 2 MOCVD + 1 HVPE tool, with
the MOCVD tool still under development, but able to run demos. As a result of
the timing though, AMAT is likely to miss the current boom that Aixtron and
Veeco are enjoying related to LED backlighting application,'' Muse said. ''One
of the features of the cluster tool is likely to be in-situ cleaning that would
reduce potential defects in the active layer.''
Through-silicon-via (TSV) will be a hot topic at Semicon. Applied, Novellus
and Lam will roll out products in the arena.
''Novellus is likely to release a solution that includes copper deposition
(but a reactor that can handle higher amount of ECP), a conformal flow
dielectric and Inova PVD,'' Muse said. ''Lam will possibly release a cheaper
bulk etch solution for TSV. In addition Lam might also release cobalt tungsten
phosphide product, not connected with TSV, based on Blue 29 purchase from
Not to be outdone, Applied ''will likely continue to position itself as the
total solution provider for TSV with a Semitool based ECP tool along with an
internally developed etch solution,'' Muse said. It's ''too soon to call the
winners and the losers, but this is where we expect new product announcement
In other annoucements, EV Group has introduced the EVG610 mask and bond
aligner. The tool addresses university and research customers' demands for a
lower costing system with greater process versatility.
The EVG610 can process substrate pieces and wafers up to 200-mm. It is
designed to support a wide variety of processes such as UV-nanoimprint
lithography and fine patterning, wafer bumping and chip-scale packaging for
MEMS, integrated circuit and compound semiconductor devices.
Another vendor, Qcept Technologies Inc. (Atlanta), has introduced its latest
non-visual defect inspection system. The ChemetriQ 5000 provides inspection on
both patterned and unpatterned wafers.
The ChemetriQ 5000 platform provides full-wafer, inline detection of organic
and inorganic residues, metallic contaminants and process-induced charging. The
ChemetriQ platform is sensitive to 5E9 atoms/cm2. It accomplishes
this by employing a non-destructive technology that detects work function
variations on the wafer's surface.
In another announcement, startup Vantage Technology Corp. has rolled out a
particle sizing unit capable of measuring CMP slurries in real-time. Existing
solutions take small diluted samples of CMP slurries.
Vantage's new SlurryScope is designed to measure particles in a ''slurry flow
as delivered to the wafer processing tool.''
San Jose-based Vantage was founded in April of 2010 by industry veterans from
the semiconductor equipment space, including Rashid Mavliev, who is chief
IC makers ''have been unable to find measurement units that can 'see through'
the density of Ceria slurries especially,'' according to a spokesman for
Vantage. ''Our technology was able to provide them with repeatable measurements.
We also do not have to dilute the slurries, and we can measure the 'flow of the
slurry' in real-time, not just small samples.''
Meanwhile, Touchdown Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of ATE provider Verigy
Inc., introduced its 1Td300 full-wafer probe card. This is the company’s first
probe card for single-touchdown, high-volume testing of DRAM memory devices.
Capable of testing an entire 300-mm wafer with only 2 g of force per probe,
the 1Td300 probe card ''offers the dual advantages of reducing forces on the
wafer under test and the entire test cell as well as allowing higher pin counts
to extend semiconductor testing roadmaps.''
''As pin counts escalate for advanced semiconductors such as DDR3 memories,
reducing the cost of test requires ever-increasing levels of parallelism,” said
Patrick Flynn, president of Touchdown Technologies, in a statement. “With our
new 1Td300 probe card, we’ve developed a reliable, single-touchdown testing
solution with ultra-low force that achieves the required planarity and scrub
performance without risking damage to the devices under test.”
In addition, Verigy recently extended the scalability of its V93000 tester by
adding the so-called Direct-Probe solution. This high-performance probe test
capability is aimed for digital, mixed-signal and wireless communication ICs.
The Direct-Probe RF solution reduces the cost of test for radio-frequency
(RF), high-pin-count digital and complex mixed-signal devices, addressing the
shift to performance probe test and wafer-level chip scale packages (WLCSP).
Verigy’s V93000 Direct-Probe is ''definitely revolutionary,'' said G. Dan
Hutcheson, chief executive of VLSI Research Inc., in a report.
''When I first heard of wafer-level chip scale packaging (WLCSP), more than
10 years ago, I questioned the ability to test it. The problems center on the
fact that probe and final test are fundamentally different and WLCSP means probe
is final test,'' he said.
''The technical problem results from the fact that the probe interface puts
the chip inches away from the test head. The signal path is too long for high
speed test. That means you can probe the wafer, but then you must singulate and
somehow deal with handling and socketing bare die, plus pay for the cost of a
second test,'' he said.
''Direct probe solves this problem making it possible to do full functional
testing and even simulation of high performance mixed signal and RF devices
directly on the wafer,'' he said.
''The second problem is organizational and it will take some work on your
market. Probe and final test are two separate organizations. They speak
different technical and often different actual languages. Actually doing WLCSP
is a threat to one or the other. The benefit to the chip maker is substantially
lower test cost and an ability to address high value markets like smart phones
with better quality and packaging options,'' he added.
Solar, LEDs and energy will also take center stage at Semicon. On a related
front, R&D specialist Intermolecular Inc. has announced the signing of a
multi-year collaborative development program and technology licensing agreement
with Guardian Industries Corp. (Auburn Hills, Mich.). Guardian is said to be the
world’s largest manufacturer of coated glass for automotive, architectural and
The partnership between Intermolecular and Guardian addresses the development
and commercialization of a diverse set of glass coatings, many related to energy
generation or energy efficiency in buildings. Target applications include both
sputtered coatings to be developed with Intermolecular’s Tempus P-30
combinatorial physical vapor deposition platform, and liquid coatings to be
developed with Intermolecular’s Tempus F-10 and F-20 wet workflows.
Glass coatings currently used to reduce energy consumption in buildings
already represent a multi-billion dollar global market with significant room for
further growth, said Scott Thomsen, Guardian’s chief technology officer and
group vice president for glass in North America. “Through our work with
Intermolecular, we hope to take materials innovation in glassmaking to an
entirely new level,'' he said in a statment.
Technologists from Guardian Science & Technology Center and
Intermolecular will work side-by-side on multiple product development projects
simultaneously, with Guardian team members spending significant time onsite at
Intermolecular’s development facilities in San Jose, Calif.