renewed focus on lowering costs while also increasing manufacturing speeds,
yields, and efficiencies, manufacturers of semiconductor machinery are banking
on new technology, outsourcing, and lower-cost designs to ready themselves for
the next wave of semiconductor demand.
News interviewed key engineers to understand the trends, challenges,
technology development areas, and industry response to weak business conditions.
Here s what we learned: Tom Solon,
APPLICATIONS ENGINEER, KERK
MOTION PRODUCTS. The
major trend in semiconductor manufacturing is the focus on new 300-mm machinery
development programs. They are driving the majority of new design work, even
though the downturn slowed the conversion.
Wafer ID Reading Goes
Mainstream- The move to 300-mm
wafers in semiconductor manufacturing is leading to increased emphasis on
100%traceability and wafer ID reading techniques to increase the flow of process
information and improve product yields. New 300-mm machinery is an area where
every tool has wafer ID, says Mike Kelley, of Electro Scientific Industries (www.esi.com). Kelley says that increased value of
each wafer, along with the standards being followed by early adopters such as
Infineon, Samsung, and Intel, have made wafer ID a mandated requirement for
Flexibility is King-
Tom Solon,Applications Engineer, Kerk Motion Products
Design News: What are
the major trends you see in semiconductor manufacturing? Kerk:300-mm machinery
development programs are driving new development and are the focus of new
product design. There s also a strong desire to lower costs, which is impacting
development. For example, there are more requests for theoretical data to
facilitate modeling of a system. Consolidation of manufacturing, with contract
fab and assembly services in the Far East, means flexibility is king. The more
products that a tool can handle, the greater the tool s appeal.
So has the slowdown in semiconductor manufacturing actually improved the design
Yes. When business was strong, OEMs were evolving their existing machines. Now
they have more time for upfront design work and are keeping costs under control
when they build. The result is a better understanding of what the results may
be. Engineering groups are sharing resources more frequently. There are many
more parallel activities going on within groups. In the past, we had situations
where two design groups were trying to solve a similar problem from totally
different directions because they didnt have the time to communicate. Now,
companies have core competencies involved with multiple projects, so a solution
can be implemented in multiple projects.
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