Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Shameless Plug for ASMC

Winter is finally starting to fade in Ottawa, and the early signs of spring are showing. The maple sap is running, the first migrant birds have arrived, the frogs are peeping, and we have evening daylight. On the conference calendar, spring means that ASMC (IEEE/SEMI Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference) is on the horizon, this year in Saratoga Springs, New York on May 16 -18. There, spring should be well advanced, and it will be a great time of year to visit the Empire State.

As the name says, ASMC is an annual conference focused on the manufacturing of semiconductor devices – in this it differs from other conferences, since the emphasis is on what goes on in the wafer fab, not the R&D labs, and the papers are not exclusively research papers.

I’m plugging ASMC because it seems to be one of the more under-rated conferences, unlike IEDM and the VLSI symposia, which get the media attention for leading-edge R&D and processes. However, it’s the nitty-gritty of manufacturing in the fab that gets the chips out of the door, and this meeting discusses the work that pushes the yield and volumes up and keeps them there.

I always come away impressed by the quality of the engineering involved; not being a fab person myself any more, it’s easy to get disconnected from the density of effort required to equip a fab, keep it running and bring new products/processes into production. Usually the guys in the fab only get publicity if something goes wrong!

This year, in addition to the 50-plus papers, there are keynotes from Norm Armour of GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GloFo), Gary Patton of IBM, and Peter Wright of Tradition Equities, as well as a panel discussion on partnerships in semiconductor manufacturing, moderated by Dave Lammers. There are also tutorials, on 3D (by James Lu of Rensselaer Poly), and EUV (by Obert Wood of GloFo), and an invited session of ISMI papers.

The technical sessions include:

  • Factory Optimization
  • Advanced Metrology
  • Advanced Equipment, Materials and Processes
  • Advanced Process Development and Control
  • Advanced Lithography
  • Defect Inspection and Yield Optimization
  • Data Management

Of course, I’m biased to some extent because we’ll be giving a paper there again. I can’t make it this year, but a colleague of mine, Ray Fontaine, is presenting on "Recent Innovations in CMOS Image Sensors". This will be the seventh year running we’ve given a paper, the manufacturing and equipment engineers that attend seem to like seeing what their competitors are doing. In this case Ray will run through some of the changes in the camera chips that we all take for granted in our phones these days.

Other papers that caught my eye may give us some clues as to what to expect in the lithographic field; the IBM/Glofo/Toshiba alliance has one on contact patterning strategies (paper 6.3), and another cooperative paper by IBM/JSR/KLA Tencor/Tokyo Electron on double patterning (6.1), and an IBM/ASML contribution on advanced overlay control (2.5). And on the materials processing side, there are three papers on low-k dielectrics from GloFo/KLA Tencor (2.4), UAlbany/Air Liquide (3.5), and Novellus (poster in session 4); and a couple on nickel silicide by GloFo (5.3) and Ultratech (poster in session 4); and a clue to the mysteries of high-k dielectrics from UMC/National Cheng Kung U (3.4).

More stategically aimed discussions are by Infineon (1.1) on the challenges in having a global supply chain, Sumita Bas of Intel will be speaking on sustainable/green in the chip business (1.3), and two talks by SEMATECH, one on 450 mm manufacturing (ISMI session), and the other on 3D/TSV manufacturing (3.1).

Out of the conference room, there’s a poster session and reception on the Monday evening, and on the Tuesday, Dave Lammers’ panel session, "Models for Successful Partnerships in Semiconductor Manufacturing". Partnership is one of the buzzwords in chipmaking these days, and the panelists we have should know it well; Ari Komeran from the industry development side of Intel, Michael Fancher from Albany, Olivier Demolliens, head of LETI-NANOTEC in France; and Dr Walid Ali, from ATIC in Abu Dhabi.

After the panel session, what could be a highlight of the conference, a tour of the Luther Forest Technology Campus, including a look at GLOBALFOUNDRIES (Norm Armour’s) new Fab 8, followed by a reception at the Canfield Casino.

Register soon – rates go up on May 8th!