Applied Materials introduced a new dielectric etch system called the Centura Avatar, designed to meet new requirements in creating the three-dimensional (3D) memory architectures that deliver high-density, terabit storage capability required for tomorrow's data-intensive mobile devices. More than 30 chambers have been shipped to multiple customers for pilot production. The company expects memory manufacturers to move from low volume to high volume production in 2013. By 2015, a significant portion of memories are expected to be 3D.
The Avatar system etches the deep, narrow features that are a hallmark of 3D NAND memory arrays. These 3D arrays represent an exciting new type of Flash device in which as many as 64 layers of memory cells are built up vertically to create extraordinary bit density in a small area. This is made possible by a new high-density plasma source design, plus new active cooling technology.
The Avatar system can etch holes and trenches in complex film stacks with depth to width aspect ratios of up to 80:1. In addition, the system enables the simultaneous and precise etching of features with greatly varying depths - which is critical to fabricating the "staircase" contact structures that connect each layer of memory cells to the outside world.