MANHASSET, NY -- Red Micro Wire, a Singapore-based company with roots in Israel, has developed a breakthrough technology for the semiconductor bonding wire process that the company claims provides a cost-effective, highly scalable alternative to current solutions.
Unlike traditional wires, RMW’s wires are cast, not drawn. The process produces a high strength, ultra-fine glass coating surrounding a soft metal core and able to scale down to 4 microns, far smaller than the 16-14 microns current wire can scale.
The $6B wire bonding market in 2012 is transitioning from gold to relatively less costly copper, with the market share of copper expected to exceed 70 percent within the next 2 years. Today's copper has oxidation issues that are being addressed by Pd (palladium) coated wires, but all wire solutions have scalability challenges with no solution able to scale below 14 microns.
Red Micro Wire will ready 10-km spools of the glass-coated copper wire and claims the spools will be 25 to 30 percent less costly than current alternative wire choices.
“OSAT suppliers, IDMs, wafer companies, and fabless semiconductor companies will find RMW’s solution a highly reliable alternative to using gold wire, which, until now, has been known as the standard,” said Shimon Dahan, CEO, RED Micro Wire. “By providing cost-effective, low diameter, insulated micro wire that is as ‘good as gold,’ we can help our OEM customers keep up with Moore’s law, as they prepare their own designs for the future.”
Dahan said the technology has several advantages: "The 10-km spools enable production efficiency with less downtime, and the technology is not sensitive to shorts. The cost of material of copper versus gold is also lower." Today's spools are usually 500 meters forcing them to be changes every few hours, said Dahan. He said that the company is negotiating with two foundries and with a tier one assembly house for volume deliveries later this year.
RMW is sampling the wire technology with OEM customers this month with full production by the end of the year. RMW R&D is done in Israel and manufacturing is planned to be at RMW premises in Singapore, the best proximity to major Asia Pacific assembly and packaging players, according to Dahan.
The first draw tool is being used in the Haifa, Israel RMW facility to produce evaluation material. While the first product is glass-coated copper wire, class-coated silver, gold and platinum wires will also be produced for niche applications in, and outside the semiconductor industry.
RMW was established in August 2011 and is owned and funded by RED Equipment, a second-hand metal tools company established in Israel in 2008. According to Dahan, Red is a secondary semiconductor capital equipment maker that had revenues of $50M in 2011.
The principles of RMW are 25-year veterans of the semiconductor industry with CEO Dahan last executive position being at Tower/Jazz. Danny Hacohen, VP Business Development & Marketing, is also from Tower/Jazz and held executive positions at Israeli facilities of National Semiconductor, now TI, and DSP Group.
"There really has not been any breakthrough in back-end semiconductor processing, all improvements have been on the front end," said Hacohen. "Our breakthrough promises the needed cost reductions at the back end."