Executive viewpoints: 2018 outlook

Perspectives from a materials supplier

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 12.25.30 PMAdam Manzonie, Dow Electronic Materials, Slurry Business Director

2017 was a very active year for the semiconductor industry with strong loading across mature nodes, and strong ramps in advanced logic and memory. Many suppliers were put to the test just to keep up. Analysts don’t expect the same ramp rate in 2018, but they don’t expect utilization to drop off either. In addition to demands on volume, our customers are looking for efficiencies in their manufacturing operations. It’s also more evident than ever that suppliers must be able to deliver on consistency and quality.

This has become a critical challenge for the industry. Emerging needs for 3D integration (FinFET, NAND, TSV) make processes more challenging for our customers leading to considerably tighter product specifications. Manufacturers must be confident their integrations are solid and processes are tightly controlled. Our customers place a high level of trust in us to supply consistent high-quality materials, in increasingly large volumes, so they can produce sophisticated devices to meet end market demand.

The need for quality and consistency hasn’t replaced the need for innovation. Successful suppliers position themselves to offer close collaboration with customers to understand emerging requirements and address new performance needs. Our advanced CMP pads, for example, deliver the benefits of hard and soft pads together to achieve unprecedented levels of planarization and defectivity. Our CMP slurry offerings can lower manufacturing costs by increasing process throughput and efficiencies, while at the same time driving defect levels down by an order of magnitude. Here we see historically conflicting needs becoming not just “nice-to-have,” but mandatory, to enable new device technology.

CMP is also becoming more pervasive with advancing technology. FinFET integration has brought on a host of new polishing steps in advanced logic, some with material combinations we haven’t seen before. 3D-NAND configurations incorporate significantly more polishing steps compared to historical planar technology. The growth of TSV has been steady and now too is evolving into completely new polishing needs for advanced packaging. These emerging needs are driving Dow’s development of new products targeting advanced applications, including new metal slurries that will hit the market in 2018.


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