Semiconductor Equipment Industry:
Migration from equipment to entire process module solutions

Dennis Yost, Applied Materials, Santa Clara, CA

In the 1960's and early '70s the semiconductor industry was characterized as a vertically integrated industry with each company building their own tools, developing their own technology, building their own chips for use in their own systems that were eventually sold. As the industry has matured and continues to mature, the vertical integration of the industry has for the most part dissolved and continues to evolve into disintegrated, highly specialized segments. IC designers are focusing on putting multiple macro-modules (DRAM, SRAM, MPU, Analog, etc..) together to produce the entire system on a chip. The foundries are focusing on getting and manufacturing the capability to produce all the technologies for the design houses. This is putting increased pressure on the semiconductor equipment suppliers to not only supply guaranteed individual equipment performance, but more recently guaranteed performance of sub-modules (Shallow Trench Isolation, Advanced Cu interconnect, etc.) that are used to build the macro-modules. For the interconnect, as an example, the defect density, electrical CD control, via resistance and required reliability performance are being evaluated and characterized in response to the demands. In fact guaranteed performance levels are not far off from being required by the customer as part of the module purchase. This eventual requirement has forced equipment suppliers to develop and enhance many of the capabilities related to electrical performance and reliability testing that typically only resided with their customers.