Richard served as a writer in Applied's Technical Communications group, focusing on bringing Applied's diverse technology to the outside world. He holds a master's degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the University of London and he’s firmly of the opinion that more than two wheels on a vehicle, motorized or not, are superfluous.
A very short word for a hugely important technology, without which there would be no microchips. Etch is the process by which images of circuit features printed on a silicon wafer are engraved into the films below. Put another way, etch makes circuits real.
It might be the understatement of the year to say that Flash memory is popular. Every year, we consume nearly twice as many bits as the year before.
Consider these nuggets: Today’s smart phones have more Flash memory than a desktop computer’s hard drive from the mid-1990s. Even budget phones can capture high-definition (HD) video and share it on the web. Flash-based solid state drives have moved from exotic to commonplace in just the last couple of years.
This has been made possible by a precipitous fall in the cost-per-bit. Every five years, the cost falls by an order of magnitude. How do memory makers cope with this treadmill?
Pure silicon isn’t terribly thrilling. It’s neither a perfect insulator nor a perfect conductor. It’s somewhere in the middle.
Inserting a smattering of boron or phosphorus atoms into the silicon crystal lattice really spices things up. This process is called ion implantation and it’s one of the fundamental processes used to make microchips.
Since we launched new ion implantation technology today, in the form of the Applied Varian VIISta® Trident high current system, it seems a good time to take a closer look at the fundamentals of ion implantation
Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International, passed away this week. His isn't the household name it should be. His influence on legions of coders and gamers deserves more. Indeed, in the mid-1980s, Commodore computers dominated the market in a way that few remember today.
Jack's life story, from Holocaust survivor to personal computer pioneer, is amazing, but I was particularly affected by the news because the first two computers I got my hands on were both Commodores.
Personal mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptop PCs are rapidly evolving, becoming faster, smaller and functionally more sophisticated. To maintain this dramatic progress in device capability, the semiconductor industry is now at a new inflection point – the era of 3D chip packaging.
In this video, Applied’s Sesh Ramaswami discusses the fundamentals of advanced packaging and the revolutionary impact this technology is having on the gadgets we buy and the cloud infrastructure that makes mobility work.
In the same way that various prophets of doom foretell the imminent demise of Moore’s Law, we often hear that conventional memory technologies are going to run out of steam soon.
However, the semiconductor industry is highly-skilled at extending its existing architectures rather than making the leap to shiny new ones with apparently compelling advantages. Thus, incremental advances in conventional technology have delayed the introduction of a raft of exciting new memory technologies.
When will the tipping point be reached that pushes one or more into the mainstream? Read what the some of the best-informed minds in the business have to say after the jump.
It's not just movies, televisions and video games that are going three-dimensional these days. Microchips are doing it, too.
Semiconductors aren't shifting into the third dimension because it’s fashionable, though. This shift is about continuing Moore’s Law, the relentless drive for higher performance that has driven the industry for four decades.
In part one, Russ Perry, dielectric guru, talked about the evolution of dielectric films – the insulation that cradles the 50 plus miles of copper wiring in a modern microprocessor.
Now, Applied’s researchers have gone a step further. They’ve developed a new technology that reinforces the dielectric at the atomic level, making it more power-efficient and mechanically stronger.
With the aid of various plastic and silicon props, Russ explains how Applied’s new Onyx technology works. This breakthrough will enable chipmakers to fabricate the industry’s lowest capacitance interconnects while making the whole structure tough enough to withstand the stress of hundreds of downstream processes and packaging steps.
This is very cool stuff. For more technical information, visit the Onyx page on our website.
When it comes to microchip technology, transistors seem to get all the attention. But did you know that the transistor layer only makes up 10% of a modern logic chip?
The other 90% is made up of interconnect layers – the three-dimensional maze of copper wires that make connections between all those transistors and the outside world. From a volume perspective, that makes the dielectric insulator that supports all that copper the most important material in all of chipmaking!
May 4, 2011 may go down in history as a day that shook the chip industry to its core, literally. Anyone even remotely interested in technology must have caught Intel’s dramatic announcement on that day that 3-D transistors are now ready to enter high-volume manufacturing.
However, other leading players believe there’s plenty of development room left in two dimensions.
Photomasks, as regular readers of this blog may recall, are the blueprints used for making chips. The photolithography process prints the patterns etched on the mask onto silicon wafers to define transistors, memory cells and wiring – all the nanoscale structures that make up a functional device.
Lithography is expected to undergo a seismic shift over the next few years as the industry adopts a new technology called extreme ultraviolet lithography, or EUV for short. This change requires a new generation of photomasks featuring new materials and operating principles.
Applied Materials launched its new Applied Baccini® Pegaso™ solar cell manufacturing platform today. The Pegaso system represents the new state of the art in solar cell manufacturing and will help to drive the solar industry into the future.
But that’s not why I’m posting this video. I’m posting it because the Pegaso system is one of the most elegant pieces of machinery I’ve ever seen.
Everyone knows that the transistors in a modern microprocessor are on the small side. So small, in fact, that it’s hard to get a grasp on the concept. Some of the critical film layers in the transistor are only a few atoms thick and well over a million transistors would fit inside the period at the end of this sentence.
So how do we actually make these infinitesimal structures? One technique that is becoming increasingly common is atomic layer deposition, or ALD. The ALD process builds up material directly on the surface of the chip, a fraction of a monolayer at a time, to produce the thinnest, most uniform films possible.