A Letter from Ali Salehpour—Getting More After Moore: How Applied Solutions Boost Fab Productivity
Senior Vice President and General Manager, New Markets and Service Group
For more than 50 years, the semiconductor industry has been governed by Moore’s Law, an observation that predicts the doubling of transistors on ICs every two years or so. As we approach the practical, physical limitations of Moore’s Law in the 21st century, some chip makers are exploring new roadmaps to achieve More Moore, which continues the doubling of advanced CMOS technologies every two years; or More than Moore, which enables non-digital functions that reduce power consumption and improve performance.
But regardless of where these new roadmaps take us in the future, one thing is already certain today: manufacturers at all levels—150mm, 200mm, and 300mm—simply need MORE. More automated tools. More process improvements. More throughput and yield. More profits.
This edition of Nanochip Fab Solutions showcases how Applied Materials is helping customers address the need to do more and increase the productivity of their fabs. We have included a special “Focus on Productivity” section with five articles devoted to that topic. An introduction feature includes perspectives from industry watchers on how the shortage of 200mm tools is driving new solutions to keep fabs running. It’s followed by an update on how we’re working to boost the performance of those 200mm tools with reengineered chambers and our advanced Vita controller, which transforms legacy tools by enhancing tool capability, improving fab efficiency, and enabling advanced software analytics. A third story describes our efforts to deliver new service offerings, technologies and collaborations that accelerate customers’ time to money through reduced downtime, more efficient system operation, and more competitive parts costs. A related article zeroes in on Applied’s new output improvement service offerings for 200mm Endura platforms, which quickly bring these workhorse tools up to modern levels of performance by improving process control and increasing output.
We also look at a new chamber matching methodology developed by the Applied Materials FabVantage Consulting team. This is a game-changer for device makers facing typical challenges: running a fab with legacy toolsets that are not identical; or ramping next-generation equipment in advanced fabs. It can help customers’ productivity with shorter time to root cause, reduced downtime and consistent on-wafer results. This special "Focus on Productivity" wraps up with a discussion of the factors to consider when deciding whether a fully automated or semi-automated production line is right for your company.
Three Applied Materials customer articles further illustrate how we are successfully pushing productivity in myriad ways. Western Digital’s SanDisk Shanghai factory, for example, is using Applied automation tools to reduce waste and improve the bottom line, while Novati is using Applied 200mm tools to create the world’s most advanced capability for 2.5 and 3D integration. And Qorvo’s contributed article describes the process improvements they obtained using Applied Materials Mirra CMP systems with our 150mm Profiler or 200mm Contour wafer-carrier heads.
Finally, as Moore’s Law winds down and ITRS issues its final roadmap, we have included a preview of the way forward with an article that discusses the new International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS). This initative charts a course in smart microelectronics manufacturing that will impact our industry for many years ahead.
Getting more out of new and existing tools is now mission-critical for Applied customers, and we get that. No matter how you measure productivity in your fab or what improvements you need to make, we hear you and are here for you. So keep reading: there's a lot "more" to come!