SEMI ISS 2014 – Scaling Innovation

Courtesy of Ivo Bolsens (Xilinx), SEMI ISS 2014
Courtesy of Ivo Bolsens (Xilinx), SEMI ISS 2014

Don’t pop the champagne just yet! Although plenty of good news was shared at the 2014 SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) there was the sobering outlook of possible limited long-term growth due to technology issues as well as economic projections. Noticeable was the lack of news and updates on key industry developments.

This is the yearly “data rich” or “data overload” (take your pick) conference of semiconductor supply chain executives. The majority of the attendees and presenters are from the SEMI member companies that develop the equipment, materials, processes, and technology used to build, test, and package semiconductors. Keeping the pressure on for advanced technology were the “end customer” attendees and presenters – semi-conductor manufacturers.

The official theme was “Pervasive Computing – An Enabler for Future Growth” and the presentations made it clear  Continue reading “SEMI ISS 2014 – Scaling Innovation”

IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 5 (Tuesday)

Semiconductor wafer test workshop swtw sign 500x352

Here are the highlights from Session Five “New Probe Card and Contact Technologies” of the 22nd annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Tuesday June 12, 2012.

Tsutomu Shoji (Japan Electronics Materials Corp. ‐ Japan) and Takashi Naito (Advantest ‐ Japan), “Full Wafer Contact Breakthrough with Ultra‐High Pin Count”:

Awarded Best Overall Presentation

As the number of probes on probe cards increase due to greater parallelism, driven by the desire for one touchdown testing and the future transition to 450 mm wafers, the total force required to probe a wafer increases if there is no reduction in the force per probe. This wafer prober chuck needs to apply the required force by pushing the wafer against the probe card typically held in place by the structure of the prober. With 200K probes on a 450 mm wafer each requiring 5 gF this is approximately equal to 1 ton (2205 lbF) of applied force. To reduce these force requirements wafer chuck and prober structure, Advantest and JEM have Continue reading “IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 5 (Tuesday)”

IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 4 (Monday)

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Here are the highlights from Session Four “New Contactor Technologies and RF PCB Design” of the 22nd annual IEEE 
Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Monday June 11, 2012.

A last minute change to balance the schedule moved my paperThe Road to 450 mm Semiconductor Wafers” from the previous session:

Many believe that Gordon Moore in his famous 1965 paper “The Experts Look Ahead: Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits” that has become know as Moore’s Law, said that the number of transistors on a device would double every year (later revised to every two years). He did not say quite that. What he said was  Continue reading “IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 4 (Monday)”

IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop – Productivity / COO – Session Nine (Wednesday)


Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop SWTW bannerHere are the highlights from Session Nine – “Productivity / COO” of the 21st annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Wednesday June 15, 2011.

Doron Avidar, Micron, “Ghosting – Touchdown Reduction Using Alternate Site Sharing“:

Even though memory testers can support very high parallelism, with smaller memories (in terms of capacity and dimensions) there are more die per wafer requiring Continue reading “IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop – Productivity / COO – Session Nine (Wednesday)”

Probe Card Cost Drivers from Architecture to Zero Defects

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As the final presenter at this week’s IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW), I outlined how critical it is to understand the true cost of a product’s architecture in “Probe Card Cost Drivers from Architecture to Zero Defects“. Without a proper understanding of these costs – especially for fully custom high technology products such as wafer test probe cards – it is impossible to maintain a sufficient gross margin. Gross margin is essential to maintain the health of a company and to fund the research & development required for innovation.

Many companies in the semiconductor test market have entered a period that Steve Newberry identified in his 2008 speech “Semiconductor Industry Trends: The Era of Profitless Prosperity?” that parallels the aluminum industry in the 1970’s. And without the means to fund innovation, companies have no future especially when faced with the double threat of Moore’s Law – increasingly harder technical requirements delivered at lower cost.

Yes, there were a few in the audience who appeared pleased since they are confident that their products are on the right path. There were others who may have been upset based upon their company’s direction. I would argue that a proper diagnosis – regardless of how disturbing – is essential to drive the proper cure.

There is plenty of opportunity in the test market and reasons for optimism. The key to long term prosperity is to really understand the fundamentals of the business and not be blinded by the technology.

I thank those who stayed for the entire conference and welcome your thoughts below. And I will be posting more about the conference (including my summaries) in the next few weeks.


IEEE Nanotechnology Symposium 2011 – Keynote

Dr. Narayan
The IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council held their 7th annual symposium this week. As in the past, the council presents an excellent program. This year’s program focused was “Nanotechnology – Consumer Applications.”

Here are my notes from the keynote presentation by Dr. Spike Narayan, Functional Manager IBM, “Nanotechnology: Leveraging Semiconductor Technologies to Address Global Challenges.”

He asks: can we leverage semiconductor technology to address global challenges of environment, energy, healthcare, and water? Others have made a compelling argument that Continue reading “IEEE Nanotechnology Symposium 2011 – Keynote”

IEEE Nanotechnology Symposium – Session 5 – Nano-Processes

Here are the highlights from Session 5 – Nano-Processes from day two of the IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council 6th Annual Symposium“Nanotechnology: State of the Art & Applications”

Note: I will post the the link for the slides once it becomes available.

Dr. Hans Stork, VP and CTO Applied Materials, “Nanotechnology in Semiconductor Industry.