VLSI Research puts FormFactor at the top of its league table of
semiconductor probe card suppliers with sales of $70.9m. The company has
moved up three places from No.4 last year. Last year's leader, Japan
Electronic Materials, came in at No.2 with $64.4m. The top five was
completed by (in order): Kulicke & Soffa ($60.5m), Micronics Japan ($48.5m)
and Wentworth Laboratories ($30.6m). The total market was $392.5m compared
with $484.8m in 2000.
A Bell Labs researcher into nanotechnology faces an inquiry into claims that
some of the data in his papers have been falsified (Nature, May 23, and
Science, May 24). Scientists noticed similar looking graphs in different
papers by Jan Hendrick Schoen and others. He denies the charges.
Lydia Sohn of Princeton studied graphs from Science (December 7, 2001) and
Nature (October 18, 2001).
Wafer carrier producer Entegris has officially opened a newly upgraded
4500m2 facility in Gilroy CA. The $3m plant is designed to clean products
that protect and transport critical materials for the microelectronics and
medical industries such as silicon wafers, computer hard disks and
medical-related items. Initially, 160 employees will work at the plant, with
expansion expected in the coming years.
Mentor Graphics' Calibre division has reached an agreement with IMEC to
cooperate on subwavelength lithography. IMEC will use Calibre's resolution
enhancement technology (RET) software on high-numerical aperture (NA) 193nm
and 157nm processes. The organisations have collaborated informally since
1999. The new three-year agreement makes Mentor Graphics a formal member of
IMEC's industrial affiliation programs (IIAPs) for the development of
high-NA 193nm and 157nm lithography.
Intel will conduct microprocessor R&D at the Universitat Polittecnica de
Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona, Spain. The Intel Labs Barcelona (ILB) research
centre will be operated by UPC on behalf of Intel. Intel's microprocessor
researchers will collaborate with researchers from UPC on technologies for
future Itanium (64-bit) and Pentium (32-bit) processor family designs in
terms of performance, power consumption and battery life.
SEZ has received two volume orders for its spin-processor wafer cleaning
systems within the last few weeks. The combined value of the orders is about
CHF22.2m ($13.3m). The orders are for tools for the treatment of 200mm and
300mm wafers and are expected for delivery this year. One follow-on order
came from a foundry in Singapore for the 200mm double chamber Spin-Processor
223. Orders for the 300mm Spin-Processor 304 came from the US.
Infineon Technologies's Munich Research Labs has extended present integrated
circuit wiring to smaller feature sizes. The resulting wiring met electrical
reliability requirements for future chip generations extending to the 2010
timeframe. The electrical assessment covered sub-70nm metal lines down to
40nm line widths, embedded in grooves of a dielectric film. Metal lines as
narrow as 55nm are expected to be used for IC production in 2010.
Fujitsu Microelectronics is introducing a 90nm process technology which will
require $700m to develop from now until 2005. Prototype production of 90nm
devices has begun at Fujitsu's Akiruno technology centre in Japan.
IBM has developed RF MEMS (micro-electro-mechanial system) resonator and
filter components, aiming at the wireless market. The company says it has
used standard production materials and a low-temperature BiCMOS compatible
fabrication process (no more than 400C). IBM believes device manufacturers
could roll out wireless devices integrated with such MEMS components in
Building work on the Advanced Mask Technology Center (AMTC) in Dresden,
Germany, kicked off with laying of the cornerstone. The AMTC is an
equally-owned joint venture of AMD, Infineon Technologies and DuPont
Photomasks (Bulletin 433, May 20, 2002) aimed at the development and pilot
manufacturing of advanced photomasks.
French microsystems producer TRONIC'S and CEA Leti (the Laboratory for
Electronic and Information Technologies of the French Atomic Energy
Commission) have signed a three years R&D contract concerning SOI-based MEMS
Advanced Power Technology has formed Advanced Power Technology RF (APT-RF)
as a result of the integration of the RF businesses of APT and of two RF
acquisitions - GHz Technology (January 2002) and Microsemi RF Products
(completed at the end of May 2002).
APT-RFproduces VDMOS (vertical diffusion metal oxide semiconductor), LDMOS
(lateral DMOS) and bipolar devices for high and very/ultra high frequency
The UMCi Singapore-based 300mm joint venture between UMC, Infineon
Technologies and the local EDBI government agency has announced several
contracts have been awarded for the next construction phase. These include
waste water treatment from Hyflux Hydrochem, cleanroom installation by M+W
Zander, gas supply from SOXAL (Singapore Oxygen Air Liquide), chemical
supply by Sumitomo Chemical Engineering and ultrapure water supply from
Vivendi Water Systems/USF. The contracts add up to a value of $68m. Total
planned capacity is 40,000 wafers per month with production scheduled to
begin in Q2 2003 on UMC's 130nm and 90nm copper/low k process technologies.
Virage Logic is to develop and license its NOVeA family of non-volatile
embedded memories on Tower Semiconductor's 0.18-micron technology, under a
multi-year licensing agreement. Tower expects the embedded memories to be
available by Q4 2002. The agreement grants Tower the right to license Virage
Logic's 0.13micron process technology for NOVeA in the future. NOVeA can be
produced using standard logic processes without special steps and photomasks
that increase costs and delivery time.
The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organisation reports April IC sales
at $11.07bn, compared with $13.74bn for the same period last year.
Asia-Pacific managed to grow its sales 12.6% year-on-year to yield $3.97bn.
Europe was down 25.8% at $2.28bn, the Americas down 30.5% at $2.62bn and
Japan down 34.5% at $2.20bn.
Alcatel Optronics is to shed a quarter of its staff in plans announced this
week. The company's industrial redeployment plan affects all of its
In Nozay, and Lannion, France, the company will introduce part-time
employment, early retirement and prolonged leaves in an effort to reduce
headcount. Job cuts will also be made at its Plano, Texas site. In Canada,
the fibre Bragg grating (FBG) manufacturing operation in Gatineau (Quebec,
Canada) will be closed and the manufacturing activities transferred to
Alcatel Optronics UK, based in Livingston, Scotland. Canada's R&D activities
and commercial presence will remain.
Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS) in collaboration with
Motorola Labs has produced its first 1Mbit MRAM (magnetoresistive random
access memory) universal memory chip.
SPS' MRAM technology director, Saied Tehrani, comments: