Executive viewpoints: 2017 outlook

Each year, Solid State Technology turns to industry leaders to hear viewpoints on the technological and economic outlook for the upcoming year. Read through these expert opinions on what to expect in 2017.

Driving the industry forward with materials engineering

Raja_Prabu_fullPrabu Raja, vice president and general manager, Patterning and Packaging Group, Applied Materials, Inc.

Over the past few years, the industry has made remarkable progress in bringing 3D chip architectures to volume production. In 2017, we will continue to see exciting technology innovations for scaling 3D NAND devices to 64 layers, ramping the 10nm process node into volume manufacturing and increasing the adoption of highly integrated chip packages.

With the transition to the 3D and sub-10nm era, the semiconductor world is changing from lithography-based scaling to materials-enabled scaling. This shift requires multiple new materials and capabilities in selective processing.

The magnitude and pace of these changes are truly disruptive. For example, with 3D NAND materials innovations for hard mask deposition and hard mask etch are essential. The challenge is to build high aspect ratio vertical structures with uniform profiles from the top to the bottom as more layers are added. Selective removal processes can remove targeted materials in vertical and horizontal structures without damage or residue throughout the stack.

For logic/foundry, the introduction of the 10nm process node in volume manufacturing brings significant growth in the number of patterning steps. This trend will increase even more for 7nm and below designs. Patterning these advanced nodes requires innovative etch capabilities to deliver feature-scale uniformity with low line edge roughness. Selective processes and alternative manufacturing schemes will also be needed as the industry seeks solutions for layer-to-layer vertical alignment. We expect this to result in a two-fold increase in the number of materials to be deposited and removed.

Finally, the industry will continue to adopt new and improved packaging schemes for enabling increased device performance, lower power consumption and to deliver desired form factors. In 2016, we saw the volume adoption of Fan-Out packaging in mobile devices and this trend is expected to grow further in 2017. The high performance computing segment will pursue 2.5D interposer and/or 3D TSV packaging schemes for higher memory bandwidth, lower latency and better power efficiency.

Applied Materials is focused on delivering game-changing selective process technologies and materials innovations to help solve the industry’s toughest challenges.

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