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A Letter from Ali Salehpour - Many Roads to Accelerate Time to Market

Senior Vice President and General Manager, New Markets and Service Group

Ali Salehpour

In ancient times, people used to say that all roads lead to Rome, then the commercial center of one of the world’s greatest empires. With the globalization of today’s technology-based economy, we might well say that all roads lead to market.

Certainly, that saying holds true for our own semiconductor industry.

We have entered an era of almost unparalleled growth, driven by demand for devices at all nodes in increasingly diverse applications. For example, the market continues to expand for More than Moore devices such as MEMs sensors for smartphones. But new applications for display, automotive and power electronics are driving new demand for 200mm production tools.

Yet despite this optimistic outlook, there is roadwork up ahead. Supply is limited for 200mm tools, and available used cores are extremely hard to find. Obsolescence can be an issue, as well as the quality and configuration of used equipment. In the display arena, as TFTs in OLED and LCD displays become smaller and screen sizes become larger, particles that did not previously cause problems can now become killer defects. And chipmakers everywhere struggle with key tool bottlenecks that reduce factory productivity, yields and profits.

This issue of Nanochip Fab Solutions focuses on how Applied Materials helps customers get past these roadblocks so they can accelerate their time to market. For example, an article on 200mm tools explores Applied’s efforts to improve productivity on that node.

An article on the display space reveals how Applied Materials is working to solve customers’ metrology and inspection challenges. Similar to the trend in semiconductors, display is now governed by ≤1µm design rules. Using e-beam review (EBR) technology to accommodate these rules, Applied enables LTPS display manufacturers to minimize killer defects in real time—shaving months off the average fab ramp.

Two case studies featured in an article on Applied SmartFactory® Dispatching and Reporting demonstrate the speed with which automated EngineeredWorks™ solutions can be implemented to accelerate time to market.

We also take an inside look at Applied Materials’ Maydan Technology Center (MTC), where semiconductor customers, consortia and universities go to prove out emerging memories, AI, IoT and other technologies. Ellie Yieh, vice president of Advanced Product Technology Development, who manages the MTC, believes that using Applied’s materials-engineering expertise to enable new technologies "matches up well with our company’s mission to make possible the technology that is shaping the future."

Finally, our "Last Word" column reports on the APC 2018 conference, where Intel senior principal engineer Steve Chadwick and other attendees considered the dynamic tension between man and machine—and the vital role humans must play in extracting the potential from today’s deep learning tools.

At Applied we understand that all our customers are heading toward one destination: the market. But we also understand that there are many roads to get there. Whether you need to accelerate your journey by deploying new tools, upgrading existing ones, automating processes, reducing killer defects or proving out emerging technologies, Applied is the traveling companion you need. We’re committed to helping you get where you need to go, faster.