200mm equipment market gaining new lease on life

By Mike Rosa, Applied Materials

In 2004/2005, shipments of 300mm wafer fab equipment (WFE) began to outpace that of 200mm platforms.  As the “baton” in the node-scaling race appeared to pass from 200mm to 300mm, it was clear that device manufacturers were transitioning to higher-volume, more cost-effective 300mm toolsets for cost efficiencies of the production of advanced memory and microprocessor devices.  Tool suppliers enabled the transition with the availability of the comprehensive 300mm toolset and began a new 300mm technology race, and leaving the major OEMs to focus on service and spares for the now legacy 200mm toolsets.  With advanced device designs fully transitioned to 300mm, many IDMs and foundries were left with growing excess capacity on their 200mm production lines.

Surprisingly, new life and attention has been refocused on the 200mm tool sets and available capacity as two phenomena are driving new requirement and economics.

First, in 2006, a MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems)-based accelerometer became a game changer when introduced into Nintendo’s next-generation Wii motion controller.  This was the first significant and novel use of a MEMS device for motion tracking in a high-volume consumer application.  Next, in 2007, when Apple Inc. first introduced the iPhone to the world, it came to light that MEMS devices were enabling a number of its advanced motion-based features.

Later, it would be noted that more than 75% of the semiconductor device content in the iPhone was sourced from 200mm wafer starts.  The devices manufactured on 200mm wafers spanned a wide variety of applications that included not only MEMS applications (motion, audio, RF, etc.) but also CIS (CMOS Image Sensor), communications, power management and analog devices.

Sold in the hundreds of millions per year, first the iPhone and then the multitude of other smart phones, tablet PCs, and related digital devices, that followed, drove the adoption of the emerging “More-than-Moore” class of devices (which were first pioneered  on 150mm wafers at the time) onto 200mm wafers.  These high-volume consumer applications gave rise to a resurgence in both new and used of 200mm equipment. This sudden requirement for new sourcing of “legacy” 200mm toolsets placed considerable strain on a supply  chain that then focused almost exclusively on 300mm; tool vendors struggled in  refurbishment, upgrade, and production of matching tools and processes that performed outside the requirements of traditional semiconductor applications (see Figure 1).

200mm equipment market gaiting new lease on life

200mm equipment market gaiting new lease on life

Some of these additional requirements — including new and thicker films (>20µm), advanced DRIE (Deep-Reactive-Ion-Etch) capabilities capable of delivering aspect ratios approaching 100:1, and new process capabilities like HFv (Hydrofluoric Acid vapor) release etch and Wafer Bonding — resulted in OEMs needing to restart 200mm tool development.  In some cases, OEMS needed to expand their product portfolios to support the growing needs of customers producing devices in the rapidly expanding “More-than-Moore” device segment.

Fast forward to 2014 —what a difference approximately seven years has made to the industry segment and more specifically the number of opportunities in the 200mm WFE market for the new class of devices.

The surge in mobile device applications and more recently wearable technologies, has meant that device manufacturers are increasingly  under  pressure to produce cheaper, smaller, more capable and more power efficient devices most economically and efficiently — and this remains optimally on legacy 200mm toolsets.  Combining this with the materials and production challenges presented by ultra-high volume applications spelled out in the ‘Trillion Sensor Vision’ and the now looming IoT (Internet-of-Things) (see Figure 2), and it becomes clear that OEMs who continue to support and develop solutions for the 200mm WFE market  have both significant challenges and potential rewards.

Figure 2.  The IoT (Internet-of-Things) by most accounts prescribes device volumes as high as 1 Trillion (per year!) by 2024.  These device volumes are accompanied by severe reductions in ASP.  Maintaining expanded device functionality, a reduced device size and a further reduced cost of fabrication, presents considerable challenge to both device producers and tool OEMs alike.

Figure 2. The IoT (Internet-of-Things) by most accounts prescribes device volumes as high as 1 Trillion (per year!) by 2024. These device volumes are accompanied by severe reductions in ASP. Maintaining expanded device functionality, a reduced device size and a further reduced cost of fabrication, presents considerable challenge to both device producers and tool OEMs alike.

Rising to the challenge presented by the demands of these rapidly growing market segments, Applied Materials is an OEM that has, over the past several years, continued to invest in the R&D of its 200mm portfolio products.  Challenged to deliver new materials and processes (see Figure 3) in support the growing class of 200mm emerging technology applications that have come to include MEMS, CIS, Power Device, Analog, WLP (Wafer Level Packaging), TFB (Thin Film Battery), TSV (through-silicon via), etc., Applied Materials believes that working close to the customer and more collaboratively throughout the supply chain is paramount to success in a technically challenging and price sensitive market. The 200mm ecosystem supporting broadly expanding cost-senstive device classes represent a new fork in the roadmap that has been almost myopically focused on Moore’s Law evolution.

deliver substantially re-engineered 200mm toolsets to produce advanced materials and processes needed to support the next generation of “More-than-Moore” devices. Source: Applied Materials

deliver substantially re-engineered 200mm toolsets to produce advanced materials and processes needed to support the next generation of “More-than-Moore” devices. Source: Applied Materials

Learn more about how this dynamic market is changing at the session on “Secondary Equipment for Mobile & Diversified Applications” at SEMICON West 2014 in San Francisco, Calif on July 8-10.

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4 thoughts on “200mm equipment market gaining new lease on life

  1. Barbara Kalkis

    The combination of economy and efficiency in 200mm production is hard to beat…still…along with reliability and quality achievable in a mature technology. Add to that the demand for sensors in applications spanning food freshness to wearable medical devices and the growing MEMS market. It adds up. Thanks to Applied for making the case in quantifiable terms.

    Reply
  2. Mark Ashby

    The euipment manufacturers did not see this coming. Many sold their 200MM line to 3rd Parties and no longer provide Technical Support. I know companies such as Applied Materials is in the process of replacing obsolete parts to sustain the 200MM line. Obtaining parts, seervice,and support for the 200MM is challenging at times for our entire Fab.
    This article is encouraging for all mature Fabs.

    Reply
  3. Christopher Norton

    Yes there are firms like ours (Established in 1986), that offer PMs; Service contracts; Billable per call services; training; refurbishment; used system sales; in support of 200mm tools.
    Our specialty is Metrology.
    KLA-Tencor; Thermawave; ADE; INSPEX; Leica; Vistec; Prometrix.
    WE have an exclusive agreement with JDSU for new lasers shipped with alignment rings mounted and aligned by JDSU.
    Exclusive part # 2214-30-SLQTC.
    Used on the KLA-Tencor 62XX series; 64XX series; SP1 Classic; SP1-TBi.
    We also new JDSU have lasers for the AIT-2 laser model# 2213-75-TSLKTB
    Re-tubed lasers available as an option.

    Reply

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