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SemiconWest 2010

The weather in San Francisco was beautiful and SemiconWest was a great show this year. In addition to the many new product and technology announcements, most exhibiters are well into a healthy recovery and optimistic about the next 12-18 months.
Here are just a few of our key takeaways.

TSV and 3D packaging were the buzzwords of the week. TSV was mentioned in everyone’s promotional campaign. AMAT rolled out a suite of six tools targeted at TSV. Novellus tool enhancements targeted wafer level packaging for 3D integration. ESI announced a laser-based ultra-thin wafer dicing system primarily targeted at stacked memory but also applicable for stacked logic and memory and TSV interconnect applications.
GlobalFoundries went on record. They will have a production EUV tool installed in Fab 8 (Malta) by 2H 2012, with production plans targeted for 2015.
IMEC rolled out six announcements covering SiGe MEMS, narrow pitch interconnects, more efficient thin-film solar cells, an EUV mask cleaning program, and a new optical lithography illumination system to extend the life of immersion through 22nm. The jointly developed IMEC/ASML freeform illumination process uses micro-mirrors providing improved pattern quality over traditional illumination. And last but not least, Micron, AMAT and Ultratech have joined IMEC in their GaN-on-Silicon program.
Soitec was upbeat because there’s a growing list of vendors starting to work with SOI. The infrastructure to support the growth is in place and ultra-thin (fully depleted) wafers will be ready for 22nm production. These wafers boast a buried oxide layer as thin as 10nm.
Exponential sales growth for products that use mature technologies such as MEMS and LED are giving new life to the secondary equipment market. Companies such as Macquarie, KLA, AG Semiconductor and others are finding ways to capitalize on this growth. There was even a section in the South Hall dedicated to secondary equipment suppliers. There are many questions as to the real size of this market since equipment can change hands several times before it finds a new home. SEMI and Semico announced the launch of a joint study to quantify the secondary equipment market.

We were so busy at the SemiconWest booths, we only spent about 1 hour at Intersolar on Thursday. BP Solar exhibited last year but was noticeably missing this year. I was using their giveaway bag from last year for my groceries but finally threw it out after getting so many negative comments from the BP logo.

It would be nice if all SemiconWest exhibits could be so positive. If we could just remember that a cycle means we’ll eventually come around.

Jim Feldhan
Joanne Itow
Managing Director

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