SAN JOSE, Calif. - Applied Materials Inc. on Tuesday (Aug. 24) is expected to roll out a new product-a shallow trench isolation film deposition tool, according to an analyst.
Applied (Santa Clara, Calif.) has scheduled a press event on Tuesday. ‘’In step with Applied’s renewed emphasis on its (chip-based fab tool) business, the company plans to announce a new tool and film,’’ said C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclay’s Capital, in a report.
''Our checks suggest Applied will announce a shallow trench isolation film deposition tool to try to retake some of the HDP-CVD (high-density plasma chemical vapor deposition) market that went to spin on dielectrics (SOD) beginning in 2008,’’ Muse said.
The market size for HDP-CVD technology is around $150-to-200 million, according to the analyst.
At present, Applied sells the Centura Ultima X HDP-CVD tool. ''Applied's patented Ultima X HDP-CVD reactor design and process technology deposits both undoped (USG) and doped (PSG and FSG) films for a wide range of applications including shallow-trench isolation (STI), pre-metal dielectric (PMD), inter-level dielectric (ILD) inter-metal dielectric (IMD), and passivation,’’ according to the company.
Novellus Systems Inc. and others are also in the HDP-CVD market. But it appears the HDP-CVD market is under pressure by SOD technology, which makes use of spin coaters to deposit the materials on a device.
''At future technology nodes (=65-nm), CVD films are increasingly challenged to produce void-free gap fill due to the narrower features and high aspect ratios,’’ according to Dow Corning. Dow’s ‘’spin-on shallow trench Isolation (STI) reduces the effective aspect ratio allowing the creation of void-free STI structures.’’
Applied is set to fend off these solutions. ''Our checks suggest likely (beta site customers are) at leading memory makers, where this solution will be less costly than SOD or other alternatives,’’ Muse said. ''We think primary players impacted will be Japanese and domestic SOD 15 consumable(s) makers. On the tool front, we see some impact to Novellus but potentially small impact to Japanese companies like TEL/DNS.’’
It also appears Applied is trying to regain momentum in the fab tool sector. For some time, the company appeared to be putting more emphasis in its solar business, by acquiring companies or rolling out new systems. In comparison, Applied appeared to have fewer announcements in its bread-and-butter fab and flat-panel tool segments.
But seeking to regain momentum in the fab equipment market, Applied has recently ''gone back to its roots'' and put more emphasis on that segment, Muse said.
It also recently experienced a setback in solar. As expected, Applied recently said it would discontinue its SunFab turnkey line for manufacturing thin-film solar panels, as part of a major restructuring effort in the segment. As part of the moves, Applied also plans to divest its low-emissivity architectural glass coating products. These actions are expected to impact between 400-to-500 positions globally.