San Jose Convention Center
    San Jose, California, United States
    24 - 29 February 2008
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    Onsite News - Monday 25 February 2008

    On this page:

       Synergy between Process and Design
       New SPIE Fellows/Top Microlithography Awards Announcement
       BACUS Panel Discusses Mask Pricing

    Synergy between Process and Design
    D. Mark Durcan
    The 33rd annual SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium got underway this morning as Symposium Chair Roxann L. Engelstad announced eight new short courses, eight new fellows, and the winner of the 5th annual Frits Zernike Award for Microlithography. She set the stage for an exciting day of plenaries and conference sessions.

    Three plenary speakers, two from industry and one from academia, shared the view that advancements in microlithography will require closer integration of design and process. The plenary discussion began with a visual presentation of an antelope running away from lions, only to run headlong into a tree. This set the stage for the theme that, without a long-term perspective seeking to integrate research and implementation, the semiconductor industry may run into a show-stopping barrier.

    D. Mark Durcan, COO of Micron, suggested analyzing cumulative capital cost per cumulative gigabyte over a 5-year period. He explained that such an analysis would yield a better roadmap for technology adoption. A central bit of advice from Durcan was that the industry should not worry about what it knows about, but that the true danger lies in unknown future challenges.

    Martin A. van den BrinkAndrew B. Kahng
    Martin A. van den Brink of ASML described the great strides immersion lithography has made over the last few years and encouraged a holistic approach to extend that success even further. He suggested that immersion double patterning will bridge the gap between single-exposure 193 nm immersion and EUV, but it will require more accurate lithography, which will come from a much more holistic approach.

    On the theme of integrated approaches, Andrew B. Kahng of UCSD described the current situation as two cultures (design and process) with two distinct roadmaps. He argued that since lithography changes the design model and design changes the lithographic process model, it behooves both sides to adopt a shared roadmap to avoid potential roadblocks. For example, lithographic layout restrictions, double patterning, and bimodal CD distribution in double patterning will affect design changes. Meanwhile, positive timing slack and redundant features can drive relaxation of lithographic requirements, and lens aberration can be accounted for in placement to increase yield. Appreciation of effects such as these can help evolve a holistic roadmap that both design and production can share.

    Overall, the morning's announcement and the three plenaries kicked off this year's event with exicting news, dynamic presentations, and food for thought about the future of microlithography.

    New SPIE Fellows and Top Microlithography Awards Announced at SPIE's Advanced Lithography Meeting
    Eight new SPIE Fellows and winners of several important awards were announced yesterday at the 33rd annual SPIE Advanced Lithography symposium in San Jose, California.
    View the details here

    Hundreds of attendees at Monday's Poster Session

    BACUS Panel Discusses Mask Pricing
    Mark Mason of TI and Wilhem Maurer of Infineon moderated Monday evening's BACUS panel discussion, in which panelists addressed concerns of rising mask costs.

    Paul Ackmann of AMD looked at reticle cost progression in terms of three Cs: capital, complexity, and content. He showed how they are good metrics for tracking cost performance, how the number of critical reticles drive higher cost, and how low k1 drives very high content requirements for reticles.

    BACUS President Brian J. Grenon drew from lessons learned over the past twenty years on to make some projections about the future of the field. He projected that (1) costs will continue to rise, but at a slower pace due to the rise of mask repair technology; (2) the decline in number of high-end mask operations (from 122 in 1990 to 68 today) will drive market pressure; and (3) captive/merchant joint ventures will make it quite difficult to project costs.

    Naoya Hayashi of Dai Nippon expressed his belief that mask set costs have been overestimated, and increases seem to be approximately 1.6x rather than 2x per node with extra value coming in resolution, accuracy, and defect control.

    Scott McDonald of Photronics then looked at the number of masks per node and the mask types by node to conclude that mask set prices by node are increasing to the point that the $1 Million mask set is an inevitability.

    Countering that, Sergei Postnikov of Infineon described pricing in terms of three phases: during initial process development, production ramp-up, and commodity production. He showed graphically how it was of utmost importance to compare pricing at identical phases in the process. If one does so, he concluded, a 2x relationship is not found, and today's gloomy price predictions can be lessened.

    Finally, Craig West of Toppan Photomasks provided a chart of total mask cost to semiconductor sales ratio. He stated that new product nonrecurring engineering (NRE) costs are rising with complexity, with design NRE costs dominating.

    The panel then debated these positions and fielded questions from the large audience.

    Brian Grenon, Grenon Consulting and former
    Advanced Lithography symposium chair, talks shop
    with a fellow attendee

    See Tuesday Onsite News