The Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) – Executive Congress is now in its seventh year and with over 200 people in planned attendance, this years’ gathering is promising to be the largest in the history of the event. Organized by the MEMS Industry Group (MIG), executive congress is focused on drawing together executives from across the MEMS supply chain to meet and discuss topics ranging from end-user applications to new technologies and current go-to-market strategies for MEMS.
Chipmaking is arguably the most complex manufacturing operation in human history. To illustrate this:
A modern megafab – one that processes over a million wafers a year – contains hundreds of individual machines and turns out billions of finished chips a year
It can take over 750 individual process steps to make a modern microprocessor
The number of different types of chips being made simultaneously is growing while adding more layers to each one. As technology continues to progress the size of the chips are shrinking and manufacturing constraints are increasing
How is this complexity handled? By computers, of course, using a similarly complex piece of software called a manufacturing execution system (MES) which keeps track of every machine and every wafer in the fab.
At Applied Materials, we’ve taken software automation to the next level. Our SmartSched software doesn’t just react to changing fab conditions; it peers into the future. This video shows how it works.
A lot more news has been published recently about large LED wafer production. LEDs Magazine reported that Philips Lumileds and Lextar Electronics are now running production on 150-mm wafers and that there is another un-named Asian company using 150-mm sapphire wafers supplied by Rubicon Technology. Rubicon also recently announced the availability of 300-mm Sapphire wafers for LED production. All this makes me think that this is only the first wave in what will be a deluge of announcements for large wafer size production in LED.
These announcements got me thinking about the technology that will be required to support production on these larger size wafers. Is there something small wafer manufacturers can leverage to derive some of the benefits of the larger wafers before they actually transition to these in their factories?
Previously, I wrote about how LED manufacturers were striving to shorten the time between initiating the LED manufacturing process and measuring their performance in an effort to improve the product yields and possibly even boost LED performance.
Certainly one of the keys to making this possible is having rapid access to manufacturing data. There are many ways to gather data for analysis by the process engineers.
Since SmartFactory launched earlier this year, I thought I’d take the time to discuss what we’ve been hearing about the software.
Applied Materials’ SmartFactory is an MES software solution tailored to the unique needs of crystalline silicon (cSi) manufacturing and thus represents an opportunity to achieve significant improvements in quality of product and operations without costly investment in hardware systems.