Executive viewpoints: 2018 outlook

New technological trends will increase the focus on sub-fab operations

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 12.25.15 PMPaul Rawlings, President, Semiconductor Division, Edwards Vacuum

It has been a good year for the semiconductor industry. We have seen high levels of investment across all sectors: memory, logic, discrete and foundries. Looking forward, we see expansion continuing well into 2019. Reducing total cost-of-ownership, improving safety and limiting negative environmental impacts remain primary drivers across the industry and continue to drive our product development at Edwards.

There are several technological trends that we expect to impact sub-fab operations. First among these is the dramatic growth projected for 3D NAND memory products. Flammable process gases requiring high dilution rates, larger tools with 5-7 multi-wafer chambers, and longer process cycles will all contribute to higher gas flows and increased risks. Integrated vacuum and abatement systems can provide higher capacity and energy efficiency in a single enclosed module that is inherently safer and more reliable. Etch process steps are also growing longer and more numerous, requiring advanced protective coatings to extend the lifetimes and improve the reliability of the harsh duty pumps used to with corrosive gases.

In another area, we are expecting significant growth in the number of EUV systems coming on line in 2018, introducing, for the first time, critical vacuum requirements in photolithography process modules. Finally, we are seeing dramatic expansion in the application of data-based fleet management techniques to optimize performance and reliability in the sub-fab. All of these trends can only be addressed effectively by complete solutions that begin with detailed analysis of specific process requirements and develop into a comprehensive support model throughout the product life-cycle.

On the human side, our industry is challenged to meet the increasing needs for talented and well-educated technologists, particularly in regions of rapid growth. We at Edwards are committed to playing our part in encouraging young people into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers and encourage everyone in the industry to support the initiatives the SEMI Organization is making in this area to develop this critical talent pipeline.


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