SEMI ISS: Sense of Scale

January 22, 2013
Intel shows first fully patterned 450 mm semiconductor wafer at SEMI ISS 2013

Intel shows first fully patterned 450 mm semiconductor wafer at SEMI ISS 2013

Attending the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) is like drinking from a fire hose with the additional risk of whiplash. Don’t get me wrong, it is an exquisite fire hose but sometimes the data presented can be overwhelming at this conference of semiconductor supply chain executives. The majority of the attendees and presenters are executives from the SEMI member companies that develop the equipment, materials, processes, and technology used to build, test, and package semiconductors. And the executives present from the semiconductor manufacturers are typically the “end customers”.

The greatest value of SEMI ISS, beyond the networking, is the strategic overview of the entire semiconductor ecosystem. What are the market drivers, the technology needed, and the roadmap status of this industry? It is true that we all know where we need to head courtesy of Moore’s Law and the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors which attempts to keep us on that trajectory. The pressure of consumers needing wanting greater functionality at lower costs is relentless. Much of the technological detail of this ecosystem is addressed in a myriad of other forums throughout the year. ISS ties these technical requirements, development needs, and business needs back to the strategic direction and desires of the global marketplace.

The whiplash comes from  Read the rest of this entry »


MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 – Session 4

December 6, 2012

Can reliability and production testing keep pace with the explosive growth in  microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based product volumes? Soon it will be the rare consumer product that does not include a MEMS device bringing us closer to the possibility of a $1 trillion MEMS market. In order to achieve greater adoption of the technology, cost and quality goals will need to be met through testing and reliability. This was the focus of the MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 conference produced by MEMS Journal and MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Council (MEPTEC).

 

Session 4

Mervi Paulasto-Kröckel (Professor, Aalto University) in “On the Reliability Characterization of MEMS Devices” examined the current methods for reliability assessment in MEMS devices and identified necessary improvements. Currently, the reliability of MEMS devices are evaluated in the functioning state. A sensor is tested by applying a known stimulus and comparing the sensor output while varying the test conditions such as temperature, humidity, etc. MEMS actuators are similarly tested by providing a known input and measuring the output of the actuator over the range of test conditions. Significant deviation between the expected and measured result indicates a failure. Simple functional test is appropriate for manufacturing quality testing however it is inadequate for measuring and improving device reliability.

Professor Paulasto-Kröckel compared these processes commonly used to estimate MEMS reliability to those used in the microelectronics industry. She identified major methodology changes required  Read the rest of this entry »


MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 – Session 3

November 13, 2012

Can reliability and production testing keep pace with the explosive growth in  microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based product volumes? Soon it will be the rare consumer product that does not include a MEMS device bringing us closer to the possibility of a $1 trillion MEMS market. In order to achieve greater adoption of the technology, cost and quality goals will need to be met through testing and reliability. This was the focus of the MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 conference produced by MEMS Journal and MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Council (MEPTEC).

 

Session 3

Pavan Gupta (Vice President of Operations, SiTime) provided a cautionary tale in “Packaging and Reliability Qualification of MEMS Resonator Devices”. Historically many MEMS companies have failed to start the device and package co-design as early as possible even though packaging was upwards of 80% of the product cost. [Perhaps they aren’t really using a concurrent engineering methodology?] Even though the cost of packaging has dropped significantly, the complexities and risks related to packaging remain high.

There are many challenges related to MEMS packaging since without a reliable and qualified package, it is not possible for one’s customers to easily and confidently integrate a MEMS product into their end product. In SiTime’s case they had a double challenge of Read the rest of this entry »


MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 – Session 2

November 6, 2012

Can reliability and production testing keep pace with the explosive growth in  microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based product volumes? Soon it will be the rare consumer product that does not include a MEMS device bringing us closer to the possibility of a $1 trillion MEMS market. In order to achieve greater adoption of the technology, cost and quality goals will need to be met through testing and reliability. This was the focus of the MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 conference produced by MEMS Journal and MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Council (MEPTEC).

Session 2

Mårten Vrånes (Director of Consulting Services, MEMS Journal) in “A Test-centric Approach to MEMS ASIC Development” discussed alternatives to the traditional co-design of the MEMS element and application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). As many MEMS devices require an ASIC to control and/or sense the MEMS element the most logical approach is to design both parts in parallel. However the scope of such a development effort is often beyond the resources – both in terms of talent and funding – for many companies especially startups.

Mr. Vrånes started with the challenges and pitfalls of ASIC development for MEMS devices. There are challenges regardless of Read the rest of this entry »


MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 – Session 1

October 31, 2012

It was my pleasure to attend the MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 conference to see the considerable progress made in these areas as microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based product volumes accelerate. We may soon get to the point where it will be the rare consumer product that does not include a MEMS device bringing us closer to the possibility of a $1 trillion MEMS market. But in order to achieve greater adoption of the technology, cost and quality goals will need to be met through testing and reliability, the focus of this conference produced by MEMS Journal and MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Council (MEPTEC).

Session 1

Mario Correa (MEMS Test Engineering Manager of Fairchild Semiconductor) started with “Evolution of MEMS Test Solutions” reviewing how test equipment and processes have evolved from the 1960’s to today. There have been major changes to test methods developed for non-MEMS sensors first used with military and aerospace MEMS sensors in the late 1960’s where the annual volume was measured in thousands of units to those used today for over three billion units shipped yearly to the consumer electronics market. It has been a challenge keeping up with the high triple digit growth rates from 2009 to 2012 including gyroscopes +189%, microphones +347%, and digital compasses +778%. MEMS accelerometers grew “only” +78% during this period. (Growth data per Yole)

These changes include Read the rest of this entry »


IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Welcome & Session 1 (Monday)

June 21, 2012

Semiconductor wafer test workshop swtw sign 500x352

Here are the highlights from the Welcome and Session One “Process Improvements for HVM” of the 22nd annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Monday June 11, 2012.

Jerry Broz (SWTW general conference chair) started with several sets of numbers: SWTW attendance (up), semiconductor revenue and wafer statistics (problems). and probe card market (up). The problem with semiconductor statistics are  Read the rest of this entry »


IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Opening Session & Keynote (Sunday)

June 19, 2012

Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop SWTW banner

This year’s IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop started on Sunday June 10th with a pleasant surprise. Due to a welcomed but unexpected wave of seventy walk-in registrations, there was insufficient seating at the opening dinner. Thankfully the hotel staff quickly adjusted to accommodate these additional guests. Attendance and interest in this year’s workshop was clearly up.

Jerry Broz, general conference chair, welcomed everyone with a brief overview and presented prizes for the first annual golf tournament. We then quickly proceeded with business as Matt Nowak (Senior Director, Advanced Technology, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies) provided the keynote “Emerging High Density 3D Through Silicon Stacking (TSS) – What’s Next?” Mr. Nowak discussed the increased amount of hype within the 3D semiconductor packaging market in the last year with everyone announcing something. And Thru Silicon Vias (TSVs) technology has already been in high volume production for image sensors for several years now but at a significantly lower density than for 3D packaging.

Why the great interest recently in 3D packaging using TSVs today? Three simple reasons:  Read the rest of this entry »