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IBM VP says EUV not ready

Posted: 15 Nov 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semiconductor? EUV? computational lithography? high-k? Gary Patton?

Gary Patton, VP of the Semiconductor Research and Development Center at IBM Corp. gave a talk on semiconductor technology innovation at 20nm and beyond at .the 2010 ARM Technology Conference.

There were several things that were surprising about his presentation:

1. EUV is still not ready
Many leading-edge chipmakers moved from 193nm "dry" lithography to 193nm immersion at the 45nm node. Intel Corp. was the exception, as the chip giant moved to immersion at 32nm. Chipmakers will most likely use 193nm immersion-with dreaded double-patterning techniques-at 28nm and 22nm.

For the 15/14nm node, the industry has been banking on extreme UV lithography, a soft X-ray, 13nm wavelength technology.

EUV is being targeted sometime "at the 14nm or 11nm timeframe," Patton said in the presentation. At 15/14nm, "EUV would be advantageousif it is ready."

In a brief interview, Patton said EUV is still not ready for prime time. That's not news. For years, EUV has been delayed due to the lack of power sources, resists, masks and inspection tools.

What's surprising is there should be some consensus about the status of EUVat least by now. The clock is ticking. The first user, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, wants EUV for memory production in 2012. Toolmaker ASML Holding NV is working hard to ship its initial production EUV machine before then. Many are betting against ASML, meaning Samsung and others will continue to work in the optical litho world for some time.

2. Importance of computational lithography
Computational lithography has received a fair amount of attention. But at one time, the technology was considered a mere science project. And there were far more press releases about it than actual shipments.

Now, to extend optical lithography to 22- and 20nm, IBM, Intel and even the EDA vendors are serious about computational techniques. Every vendor has a different name for it, causing confusion in the market.

But nonetheless, at 22- and 20nm, chip vendors may have to resort to computational lithography, which includes source-mask optimization, pixelated masks, custom lenses, among other techniques, Patton said.

3. He did not discuss the status of high-k
In December 2007, high-k/metal-gate technologies for the gate stack were announced by IBM and Intel separately. Today, Intel has put two generations of high-k in production. In contrast, the industry is still waiting for IBM-and its partners-to deliver chips based on high-k.

One IBM partner, Samsung, right now claims to be running shuttles, which includes a 32nm process with high-k. Officials from Samsung said the high-k technology is working "pretty good" despite rumors to the contrary.

Another partner, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., will not ship processors based on high-k until 1H 2011. Rumors are running rampant that the shipment date has slipped to 2H 2011. There is a slight disconnect. In his presentation, Patton mentioned high-k/metal-gate as an enabler for the gate stack, but gave no status report on the technology.

4. End of the planar CMOS era
The industry has known that a new breakthrough is needed to extend the CMOS era. Patton believes that a new device structure beyond today's planar technology will be required at the 14nm node to extend CMOS.

As before, there are several candidates with no clear-cut leader. Among the possibilities include FinFETs as well as next-generation devices based on fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (SOI) or extremely thin SOI. FinFETs are complex to manufacture, while the newfangled SOI devices have challenges, he said.

5. He did not mention 450mm
Patton made no mention of 450mm during his presentation. Intel has recently announced a new fab, which is supposedly "450mm ready." Clearly, the industry is not ready to move to 450mm right now, but Intel is reportedly jumpstarting the effort.

Some of IBM's partners are jumping for joy. Moving to 450mm entails a lot of R&D dollars and risk. If tool vendors are willing to devise 450mm gear, Intel must take the painstaking task of ironing out the bugs. So, let Intel take the risk.

On the other hand, IBM and its partners, GlobalFoundries and Samsung, don't want to be left too far behind. In fact, Samsung is pushing hard for 450mm. Like Intel, it wants 450mm. To a large degree, however, GlobalFoundries is lukewarm about it.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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