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”

Riding Off Into the Sunset – BiTS 2013

Sunset over Phoenix, Arizona during BiTS Workshop
Sunset over Phoenix, Arizona during BiTS Workshop

As the Burn-in & Test Strategies (BiTS) Workshop 2013 fades into the sunset (queue the music), here is a round-up of the highlights. There were gun fights in the corral as well as technical questions for the presenters. The saloon girls and gunfighters took an edge off of the “geek” factor. This year over three hundred fifty people come to the “Circle BiTS Ranch” (aka the Hilton in Mesa, Arizona) for the premier conference focused on what is new and next for semiconductor test tooling and strategy. Oh, did I mention that the theme this year was Western?

This was the 14th annual BiTS Workshop, which has achieved the perfect conference trifecta of Continue reading “Riding Off Into the Sunset – BiTS 2013”

SEMI ISS: Sense of Scale

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  Continue reading “SEMI ISS: Sense of Scale”

IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 8 (Wednesday)

Semiconductor wafer test workshop swtw sign 500x352

Here are the highlights from Session Eight “Probe Process and Metrology” of the 22nd annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Wednesday June 13, 2012.

Rob Marcelis (BE Precision Technology ‐ The Netherlands), “H3D Profiler for Contact Less Probe‐Card Inspection”:

Probe cards require inspection since they are consumables subject to wear. Changes in probe position or shape can damage the semiconductor devices they are testing. As probe cards increase in size and probe count, the probe cards themselves are becoming more expensive to test in terms of test time and complexity. Each new test system typically requires an expensive “motherboard” for the probe card metrology tool to simulate the mechanics of the tester and provide electrical interconnect to the card for electrical testing.

BE Precision Technology took a different approach by Continue reading “IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 8 (Wednesday)”

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 2012 – Session 3 (Monday)

Semiconductor wafer test workshop swtw sign

Here are the highlights from Session Three “Probe Potpourri” of the 22nd annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Monday June 11, 2012.

Larry Levy (FormFactor, Inc.), “Is Parametric Testing About To Enter a Period of Growth and Innovation?”:

Upwards of one thousand facilities perform parametric wafer testing (based on 2009 market data) with over a third of these using obsolete test equipment. There have been no really new testers in several years – Agilent still has their 40xx series and Keithley has their S530 tester. And several companies have exited the market and some companies (including Keithley) are no longer supporting older models of testers. Since parametric testing remains an essential process, this has forced a high number of these facilities to use obsolete equipment or find other approaches. A few companies are going as far as using an Advantest 93000, a significantly more expensive and highly sophisticated digital tester, for parametric test. [Updated to clarify Keithley’s status.]

Parametric testing can be divided into three categories: in-line, end of line (EOL), and quality and reliability. In-line testing is  Continue reading “IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 3 (Monday)”