TSMC says equipment vendors late for 14 nm
September 08, 2011 // Rick Merritt
Time is running out to make critical decisions for how to make 14-nm chips expected to hit production in 2015, and capital equipment vendors are falling behind. That was the upshot of a talk by the top R&D executive at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., (TSMC) at Semicon Taiwan.
TSMC believes it needs to move to next-generation lithography and 450-mm wafers to make 14-nm chips cost effectively, but capital equipment makers threaten to miss the foundry's schedule on both fronts. "Every day we become more and more concerned," said Shang-Yi Chiang, senior vice president of R&D of TSMC.
Fabs need throughput of more than 100 wafers per hour. But so far extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography offers just five wafers per hour at best. Two alternatives using multiple e-beam direct write approaches get less than one.
Similarly, TSMC "put out our wish list for 450-mm wafers a few months ago, but some in the capital equipment industry felt it was too aggressive so now we don’t know" what the schedule will be, Chiang said to EE Times after his talk. "We may have to do what we did at the 130-nm generation when some capacity was on 200- and some on 300-mm wafers," he said.
TSMC currently plans to bring up a pilot 450-mm wafer line at its Fab 12 in Hsinchu, followed by a production line in Taichung. The larger wafers are needed both to help keep pace with Moore's Law and to lower wafer costs as much as 30 percent.
The 450-nm wafers enable foundries to use fewer fabs, saving significant money on both land and labor costs. To meet expected demand for 32 million eight-inch equivalent wafers, TSMC could hire 20,000 engineers to run 22 plants. If it has to use today's 300-mm wafers the same output would require 29 plants and 27,000 engineers, Chiang estimated.
"450-mm wafers are not a technical issue but an economic issue which is probably more important than technical issue these days," Chiang said.
In lithography, today's 193-nm immersion systems will serve both the 28-nm node TSMC is ramping now and the next-generation 20-nm node. But at 20 nm, fabs will need to use double patterning, essentially running wafers through some exposure processes twice to draw finer lines.
At 14 nm the amount of double patterning with immersion systems could become prohibitively expensive for many customers. So TSMC will start testing a prototype 3100 series EUV machine from ASML in two weeks. It has already been testing an e-beam system from Mapper Lithography BV and will install another from KLA Tencor next year.
"If we cannot get EUV or e-beam to 100 wafers per hour throughput, we see few customers will be willing to continue migrating to finer technology nodes because of the cost," he warned.
TSMC hopes to ramp a 14-nm process in 2015 so "we have to make this decision [on lithography] early next year," Chiang said. "If we focus on using 193-nm immersion it becomes difficult to switch to EUV later on, [and] design rules will be defined based on the choice of lithography, so time is running out," he said.
Chiang suggested immersion lithography would be too expensive at 14 nm, exceeding traditional guidelines of half the capital equipment costs for a node. Despite the enormous costs of EUV and e-beam machines, estimated at as much as $120 million, they are still cheaper than immersion given the double patterning problems.
E-beam and EUV systems cost roughly the same. But E-beam systems currently under test do not require masks so could slightly cheaper to use than EUV, Chiang said.
EUV has "the broadest support and is the most likely route" forward, said Luc Van den hove, chief executive of the Imec research consortium based outside Brussels. "But this year and next we have to demo the production worthiness of this technology," Van den hove said in a separate talk.
Imec has been running wafers through an ASML 3100 pre-production system for three months "and we've seen improvement in throughput, but progress has been too slow and we have to further accelerate it," he said.
The power of the EUV source light is still too low, despite defining two approaches to creating the light source. "Progress has not been sufficient, and this is one of the highest priorities," said Van den hove who once ran Imec's lithography program.
As if the capital equipment problems were not enough, TSMC expects it will need to transition to a new transistor design at 14 nm, likely a FinFET. Intel announced plans to use such a 3-D transistor design starting at 20 nm.
Both TSMC and GlobalFoundries believe planar transistors can be used down to 20 nm. But they both expect to make the switch to 3-D structures such as FinFETs or fully depleted SOI at 14 nm.
Van den hove said FinFETs "are probably the most likely way. Beyond that we believe another technology breakthrough will be needed likely using super-high mobility materials such as germanium p-channel and III-IV materials for n-channels for 10 nm nodes," he added.
The good news is unexpected innovations have powered the industry past roadblocks in previous generations, despite as many as ten past predictions that Moore's law would end, said Chiang of TSMC. Based on feasibility demonstrations, he projected currently defined technologies could take CMOS scaling to geometries as fine as 7 nm. All news
Advanced batteries reached $10.8bn in market value in 2012, reports Navigant Research
December 05, 2013
Worldwide sales of advanced batteries totaled $10.8 billion in 2012 which is an increase over 2011 reports market intelligence ...
Composite human-computer interface allows multiple devices to share and coordinate their interactions
Sony eyes Renesas fab for sensors
Transphorm acquires Fujitsu's GaN power conversion business
Image sensors manufacturer CMOSIS to be acquired by TA Associates
AMETEK acquires power management systems provider Powervar
December 05, 2013
AMETEK, Inc. has acquired Powervar, a leading provider of power management systems and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) ...
Volvo starts large test with robot cars on public roads
Gartner: Qualcomm, Micron rise in 2013 chip market
Connected Lighting Alliance focuses on shaping indoor professional lighting standards
- 3mm × 3mm QFN IC Directly Monitors 0V to 80V Supplies
- UltraCMOS® Semiconductor Technology Platforms: A Rapid Advancement of Process & Manufacturing
- Adaptive Cell Converter Topology Enables Constant Efficiency in PFC Applications
- Isolated 4-Channel, Thermocouple/RTD Temperature Measurement System with 0.5°C Accuracy
InterviewPerformance monitoring solution helps provide intelligent control of high power systems
A performance monitoring solution designed to enable companies to monitor high power IGBT module systems in locomotive, wind turbine, High Voltage DC and industrial drive applications was unveiled this ...
Filter WizardCheck out the Filter Wizard Series of articles by Filter Guru Kendall Castor-Perry which provide invaluable practical Analog Design guidelines.
Linear video channel
READER OFFERRead more
Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturer Ciseco has launched the Raspberry Pi ‘Wireless Inventors Kit’ (RasWIK), featuring 88 pieces to provide everything a Pi owner needs to follow a series of step-by-step projects or to create their own wireless devices, without the need for configuration or even writing code.
RasWIK has been designed to be highly accessible, demystifying the dark art of wireless and enabling anyone with basic computing skills to begin building wireless devices with a Raspberry Pi. You can create anything from a simple traffic light, to a battery monitor, or even a temperature gauge that sends data to the Xively IoT cloud so billions can access the data.This month, Ciseco is giving away twelve Raspberry Pi Wireless Inventors kits, worth £49.99 each for EETimes Europe's readers to win.
And the winners are...
In our previous reader offer, Farsens was giving away five kits for EEtimes Europe readers to evaluate its FenixVortex, Kineo and X1 wireless, battery free sensor tags.
Lucky winners include Mr A. Neil from the UK, Mr. E. Delvaux from Belgium, Mr Lengal from the Czech Republic, Mr H. Bijlsma from the Netherlands, and Mr G. Pfaff from Germany. All should be receiving their packages soon. Lets wish them some interesting findings with their projects.
December 15, 2011 | Texas instruments | 222901974
Unique Ser/Des technology supports encrypted video and audio content with full duplex bi-directional control channel over a single wire interface.