Thursday, July 29, 2010

Look inside Nextreme Thermal Solutions

Since so many of you enjoyed our tour of Applied Materials (click here if you missed it), we've decided to post a few other photos from company tours. These two photos were taken at the Nextreme Thermal Solutions campus in Durham, NC.

This permanent power cycling test bench is used for environmental stressing of various Nextreme devices, such as the eTEC and OptoCooler modules. By determining the device failure rates, process modifications can be made and problems can be engineered out. Nextreme recently announced that they will expand engineering consulting on thermal and power management issues (read about it here)

The C.O.P. test station uses thermocouples to measure the hot and cold sides of an embedded thermoelectric component (eTEC).

Nextreme's OptoCooler HV14 is the latest-generation gold/tin thermoelectric module. Read about it here.

You might also want to read Nextreme's article, "Localized Cooling for Data Centers" from Advanced Packaging

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 SEMICON West meeting shares semi market insights

During SEMICON West 2010, held in July in San Francisco, the Electronics Media Group (Solid State Technology/Advanced Packaging, Small Times, Photovoltaics World, and the ConFab) staff got together with members of the industries to discuss technology and business trends. The "2010 Market & Technology Update" included keynotes from editor Pete Singer, analyst Bill McClean, and Andrew Thompson of Proteus Biomedical. Wish you could have made it? Here are some of the key points expressed by speaker Bill McClean, as well as a video interview with McClean to summarize.

Bill McClean, president IC Insights, gives a bullish semiconductor industry forecast at SEMICON West 2010, with at least 30% growth for the IC market. The seasonally strong second half of the year is just beginning. IC Insights predicts strong PC sales in 2010, up to 338 million (2009 saw 286 million PCs shipped). Cell phone shipments will also greatly outpace 2009 (up 12%), and Q'04 2010 cell shipments are on pace to surpass the pre-recession Q'04 2007 levels.

Want more good news? IC shipments in 2010 are consistently above the annual trend, reaching above 50 billion units in Q'03 2010. However, average selling price (ASP) on ICs continues the general downward trend seen in this decade.

Capacity increases following a recession are par for the course, McClean says, and 2010-2011 will see capacity grow, after shrinkage in 2008 and 2009, led by AMD/GlobalFoundries, Hynix, Samsung, UMC, and others. Geographically, capacity increases in Korea are fast making it the new Japan, a region that has dropped off considerably since 2005.

IC Insights' new 220-page Mid-Year Update to The McClean Report shows that the 2010 worldwide semiconductor market is forecast to register the largest dollar volume increase in history -- $72 billion (to $310 billion total).

Video: Bullish outlook on semiconductor manufacturing from Bill McClean

Speak with Bill McClean, IC Insights, about capacity, IC pricing, and other trends at
Keep an eye on the blog for video and key points from our other breakfast speakers as well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SEMICON West: The industry is everywhere

We've posted tons of content from SEMICON West, from videos to podcasts to text writeups. And more is on the way. But while we're processing all our notes and brainwaves, here's something a bit off the path...

It's not unusual to hear public buzz around the Bay Area about semiconductors; it's the lifeblood of the region. Even the panhandlers between Market to Moscone will profess an awareness just to help their cause (as surely they do about most tradeshows that pass through). But at our hotel this year, the concierge surprised us by revealing quite a bit more more than a passing knowledge. Turns out he's a U.Penn-pedigreed Ph.D -- patented, with a handful of published papers -- with a wide background in everything from narrow bandgap semiconductors to IR detectors and sensors to solar panels and nickel-hydride batteries. He's still tracking what goes on in the industry, and has a keen interest to get back into the game after a hiatus. We've got his contact information if anyone's interested.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Solar energy in Haiti

Infrastructure in Haiti is still decimated, 6 months after a massive earthquake struck the island. At Intersolar North America this week, SolarWorld donated an in-kind grant of solar panels totaling 100 kilowatts to support the solar electrification of five health clinics for Partners In Health (PIH) in Haiti. The grant was awarded to the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF). Read the full press release on Photovoltaics World:
Actor Larry Hagman, who played an oil man on the TV show "Dallas," was at the Intersolar event to voice his support of photovoltaics initiatives. Listen to what he has to say in this interview with Debra Vogler: The case for solar energy from actor Larry Hagman
Get all the latest news and information from Intersolar North America at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Advanced Packaging blogger Phil Garrou, Ph.D., joins Yole team

Dr. Philip Garrou joined Yole Développement as Senior Technical Analyst for 3D Packaging. Under the exclusive agreement Dr. Garrou will contribute to the team of 4 analysts covering this topic at Yole and will author original research reports and contribute to existing reports building on and adding to Yole’s growing reach into the advanced packaging area.

Dr. Phil Garrou gives his insight into leading edge developments in 3-D integration and advanced packaging, reporting the latest technical goings on from conferences, conversations, and more in his Advanced Packaging blog, "Insights From the Leading Edge."

Read about 3D packaging on Advanced Packaging's 3D Integration center at

Semicon West Goes Virtual

Registered SEMICON West attendees were greeted this morning with a message welcoming them to a "Virtual SEMICON West" featuring live and on-demand broadcasts from San Francisco as well as the opportunity to "interact with exhibitors and network with colleagues from the convenience of your home or office during and after the physical event." The virtual show will be available from July 13th (at 8:00 am) and remain available through August 27.

The virtual show will be running on the Semineedle platform:

Conference organizers note that on the site you will be able to: Attend live keynote speeches and over 50 on-demand presentations; visit company exhibits for product demos, documentation, press releases and more; interact with exhibit staff and attend exhibitor events; and search and network with over 15,000 attendees (not sure if those are "live" attendees or virtual attendees).

The best news: there will be no virtual bums homeless people to step over.

Pete Singer

Monday, July 12, 2010

POVs on the Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC) poster presentations's senior technical editor Debra Vogler recorded a few of the reactions Sunday night at the interactive poster presentations, part of the Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference, taking place alongside SEMICON West this week in San Francisco.

Paul Werbaneth, VP, Marketing & Applications at Tegal Corporation, speaks to the international nature of the interactive poster session and Dick James, Chipworks, talks with Debra Vogler about the interactive poster session at ASMC.

You can see all of the podcasts, videos, news and more from SEMICON West on our special SEMICON West page:

If you presented at ASMC, or attended the poster session, let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A BlaSST from the Past

Stop reading! Unless you want to join me in reminiscing about the "old days" of Semicon West. Every time I'm about to head out, I have to think back to -- egad -- 1982 when I first attended. That makes this #29 for me. Back in "the day" the show was in May in San Mateo at the county fairgrounds, exhibitors were in un-airconditioned concrete buildings with woodland names like Pine, Sequoia, Redwood, Cypress and Oak Hall. There was also the Hall of Flowers (the largest building), plus a bunch of exhibitors out at The Racetrack, a dusty walk or trolley ride away. The sound of a Dixie jazz band was in the air and the concessions were straight from the fair: funnel cakes and sausages and what not.

An interesting statistic: 560 exhibitors in 1982; around 650 at this year's show.

The big news in 1982: a five man delegation from the Peoples Republic of China was there to inpsect the newest lithography equipment, exhibitors were touting equipment automation for the first time, the Japanese had "won" the 64K DRAM race but U.S. makers thought they had a shot at 256K DRAMs, the "death" of e-beam direct write was being debated. Perkin-Elmer was touting projection mask aligners with overlay accuracies to 0.5 micron, machine stabilities to 0.25 micron and resolution capabilties from 0.9-1.25 micron. Throughput was up to on hundred 125mm wafers per hour. Veeco's top of the line ion implanters were designed for 200 KeV and 400 KeV. Tencor introduced the Alpha-Step 200. Lam unveiled the AutoEtch 480, with throughput up to 60 wafers per hour (3 inch, 100mm or 125mm), and a modem for remote diagnostics.

Too early to say what the buzz will be at this year's show, but it's likely that China, memory market trends (now more SRAM than DRAM), 450mm wafers, next generation EUV lithography and 3D integration will be hot topics. Probably remote diagnostics too, now called e-diagnostics.

While reminiscing, I decided to see what I could find about the very first Semicon. In the bowels of the PennWell building, I found a 1971 April issue of Solid State Technology: 50 exhibitors. The conference included advances in thin film deposition techniques, effects of chemical impurities on semiconductor processing, memory testing and advances in assembly and handling techniques. The more things change, the more they stay the same!?

My favorite though was the descripton of the annual Semicon banquet. Scheduled to being at 6:30 pm on Wed. at the Royal Coach Inn, San Mateo, banquet entertainment will feature a fest of humorous lampoons of semiconductor executives and their industry. Elizabeth De Atley will invoke the proceedings with a tongue-in-cheek genesis of the semiconductor industry. Following her, a number of industry leaders will have a chance to roast the sponsors of the show. The major part of the show will be an original musical revue called "Jose Can IC," an amateur production with a cast of 20 actors, singers and dancers from the Peninsula semiconductor industry. Between scenes at the office, a wagon wheel, and a laboratory, the staff of San Francisco radio station KSFO will present special humorous material in the vein of their On-the-Air Broadcast."

I'm not sure if it was the same location, but I attended a similar event in 1982 (perhaps the last?) and I can say fun was had by all.

Interestingly, right below that story in April 1971 was a story that a patent had been issued to Hughes Aircraft concerning the use of silicon or other semiconducting material to replace the metal used for the gate in MOS devices. Now we're back to using metal gates -- can humorous lampooning and roasting be far behind? I hope not!

Pete Singer

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Get this week's issue of PV Times at
Catch podcasts with Jigar Shah, Ralf Plieninger, Jody Cowan, and Karim Lokas at Debra Vogler interviewed these solar PV experts at the Summit on Solar Quality last month.

Non-visual defect (NVD) detection technologies with Ralph Spicer, Qcept

In the podcast interview "Qcept technology for detecting sub-monolayer nonvisual defects (NVD) on semiconductor wafers" with Solid State Technology's Debra Vogler, Ralph Spicer, VP, marketing, Qcept Technologies, describes the company’s technology for detecting discontinuities in the workfunction at the surface of wafers -- such discontinuities cause non-visual defects (NVDs).

Spicer also wrote about NVD detection for the August 2009 issue of Solid State Technology. In "Non-visual defect inspection for comprehensive yield management," Spicer says that, "with the increasing impact NVDs have on device yield, yield management strategies must incorporate NVD inspection and review in a way that is analogous to physical defect inspection -- both in-line to prevent excursions that can affect line yield, and in the lab to assist with root cause analysis and process development."

Read the article for several case studies of NVD's effect on semiconductor manufacturing yield. And listen to the podcast for more information on Qcept's NVD technology: Listen Now or Download

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Welcome to the editors' blog on

Here, you'll find opinions and analysis on the day's news, tradeshow updates, information about the electronics manufacturing portal site, and more. is the website for Solid State Technology (semiconductors), Photovoltaics World (photovoltaics), Advanced Packaging (packaging) and Small Times (nanotech/MEMS).

Bloggers include Pete Singer, editor-in-chief; Debra Vogler, senior technical editor; Bob Haavind, editor-at-large; James Mongomery, news editor; and Meredith Courtemanche, digital media editor.