By Françoise von Trapp, managing editor
(September 25, 2008) WATERBURY, VT Things may appear to be slow right now in semiconductor manufacturing industry, but expected 2009 fab and foundry expansion as a result of the transition to 300mm manufacturing; SEMI's and industry suppliers' recommendation to hold off on 450mm development and instead focus resources on improving factory efficiency, as well as materials and packaging technologies; and predictions around the rapid adoption of through-silicon via (TSV) technologies bode well for equipment manufacturers focused on those technologies. Wilfried Bair, VP business development and general manager, Bonder Division talked to AP about how SUSS MicroTec is getting ready for 300mm and 3D integration.
According to reports from SEMI, 2009 capex spending in fabs worldwide is expected to rebound more than 20% with a reported 50 300mm projects in the works. Moreover, SEMI's worldwide forecast in August 2008 indicated that 300mm capacity surpassed 200mm capacity by mid-2008, and is expected to increase as 200mm slowly declines. Additionally, although reports indicate that Intel, Samsung, and TSMC are pressing forward with 450mm manufacturing, other mid-size semiconductor manufacturers such as STMicroelectronics, IBM, and AMD are opposed to the transition and instead support investment into 300mm automation. Concurrently, Yole Développment predicted that TSV technology is making an impact on many equipment and materials suppliers revenues. The market research group says that by 2013, equipment markets for manufacturing TSV ICs are projected to reach $1B.
SUSS MicroTec agrees and has been focusing their efforts in the 300mm 3D integration and packaging markets for quite some time. Bair says that for next generation technologies like 3D integration there is no slowdown; in fact, things are getting more aggressive. "Developments that will replace existing technologies are moving forward quickly," he explained, adding that the call for newer features at lower cost is motivating purchases of next-generation equipment. He said for SUSS, the end users' recommendation to hold off on investing in 450 mm is good news, as they have been putting a lot of energy into developing 300mm toolsets. As 300mm production ramps up, we can expect in the short term that for the TSV 3D market, much of the volume will still be done on 200mm tools, with a slow transition to 300mm, he noted.
The company's most recent launch is The XBC300, which is targeted initially for manufacturing CMOS image sensors since "they're the guys who need it now," noted Bair, "but it will also address the upcoming processes for 3D integration and 3D packaging." This includes Cu-Cu bonds for 3D stacking of vias smaller than 10μm, fusion bonds including low-temperature processing, and hybrid bonding of metal interconnects dielectrically isolated with either deposited oxide layers or adhesives. All processes are automated and configurable to suit the manufacturer's need. Bair explained that manufacturing CMOS image sensors at 300mm calls for complete automation. "Nobody wants those wafers to be handled manually,"he said, adding that when compared with other 300mm automated bonders, the XBC300 is more compact, requiring less space and power to operate.
Bair says the TSV roadmap calls for 3D production to begin by 2011. He claims the 3D version of the XBC300 to be released in early 2009 will be capable of performing alignment accuracies that will be required by that time. The response in the market has been "more than favorable," concluded Bair.