Tegal+AMMS eyes growth in 3D packaging, MEMS

Sept. 7, 2008 – Tegal Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Alcatel Micro Machining Systems’ (AMMS) deep reactive ion etch (DRIE) and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) products is “a critical part of our growth strategy” to extend into higher-growth markets in 3D IC packaging and MEMS devices, the company asserts.

Under terms of the deal, Tegal will buy Alcatel Micro Machining Systems’ (AMMS) and Alcatel-Lucent’s deep reactive ion etch (DRIE) and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) products and related IP in a $5M in cash-and-stock transaction. Tegal will continue development of the AMMS DRIE product line, including integrating AMMS’ process modules on its recently-introduced Compact bridge platform, and the completion of a 300mm process chamber. AMMS will continue to support its existing installed base of DRIE tools in use by MEMS and IDMs, and Tegal will assume responsibility for AMMS’ joint development programs with key customers and research and academic institutions.

The deal is “an important strategic move for Tegal” to aggressively pursue the large high-growth markets in MEMS and semiconductor device manufacturing, said Thomas Mika, chairman/president/CEO of Tegal, in a statement. Gilbert Bellini, president of AMMS, who will be appointed to Tegal’s board of directors, added that Tegal will particularly target “the rapidly expanding markets for 3D wafer-level packaging applications.”

Deep reactive-ion etching (DRIE) is a highly anisotropic etch process used to create deep, steep-sided holes and trenches in wafers (>20:1 aspect ratios). Current end-markets include a variety of MEMS and power devices, memory stacking (flash and DRAM), logic, RF-SiP, and CMOS image sensors. But now attention is also turning to MEMS devices and through-silicon via (TSV) for advanced packaging applications.

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In an online Q&A, Tegal explained that its MEMS customers already using its materials etch and PVD systems have been asking the toolmaker to get a foothold in DRIE for over two years. Moreover, the DRIE segment targeting these markets is largely packed with smaller companies — including AMMS, which according to Yole Développement was the #2 DRIE tool supplier in 2007 (see Fig. 1) — and is poised for significant growth through 2012 (~$148M to $434M, a 31% CAGR) (see Fig. 2). Most of the suppliers base their technology on the Bosch process; exceptions include Ulvac, Shinko Seiki, and Oxford Instruments.

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About six people are expected to move over to Tegal from AMMS in Annecy, France, over a six-month transition period, with a total of 6-10 people in various positions added over several months. The addition of AMMS will not change Tegal’s manufacturing strategy, which is to outsource some critical components but bring as much assembly/final test into its Petaluma, CA facility.


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