IMEC: Fabless/fab-lite trend requires extended R&D model

by Debra Vogler, Senior Technical Editor, Solid State Technology

July 8, 2008 – In a pre-SEMICON West interview with SST, Ludo Deferm, IMEC’s VP of business development, described how R&D consortia will have to change the way they accommodate the inclusion of fabless and fab-lite companies in their R&D business model, as fewer companies are able to afford the move from 32nm manufacturing to 22nm, and beyond.

Scaling will still continue for those manufacturers that make complex systems at high volumes, e.g., microprocessors and memories, noted Deferm. “But those who make complex systems at small volumes will probably stick with 32nm, or use foundries who can provide 22nm for the more critical blocks,” he said. Fewer IDMs will manufacture at 22nm and 16nm, which means more work for foundries — and that has implications for materials and equipment suppliers, he noted, as well as for R&D centers.

For IMEC, the further turn toward the fabless/fab-lite/foundry model means it must further adapt its R&D agreements, to a model that is more compatible with foundries, observed Deferm. Meanwhile, fabless and fab-lite companies will also have to understand the complications and limitations of scaling technology, and many will likely partner with other companies that are able to scale past 32nm.

Deferm observed that it will take some time for the different companies to understand the different goals of the various parties that sign onto these expanded R&D programs. “We have to serve even more companies than we have in the past,” he said. Although IMEC has been working with foundries, those projects have primarily been focused on licensing and services, not so much R&D. Deferm sees the same kind of R&D model extension applying to IP providers. — D.V.

3D freedom, choices, risks drive IMEC’s design tool program

by Debra Vogler, Senior Technical Editor, Solid State Technology

Recognizing the lack of design tools that account for design in three dimensions, rather than just two, IMEC has established a 3D integration program to tackle the need. Ludo Deferm, VP of business development at IMEC, talked with SST in a pre-SEMICON West briefing about the necessity for its research partners to understand the impact of 3D technology and the added value of design.

Not only will there be new design rules, 3D technology provides opportunities for improving designs, such as the way power is handled, he said. “But these opportunities provide more flexibility for the designer, which also means there are more opportunities to choose the wrong path,” noted Deferm. “You have to know how to extend the EDA tools and the design methodologies with 3D.” IMEC’s design program will provide high-level simulation capabilities to ensure its partners understand the limitations of 3D design. — D.V.


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