Imec celebrates 30 years of nanoelectronics
14 January 2014
Founded in 1984 as a non-profit organisation, imec has grown to be a multi-discipline centre, with several notable achievements.
As well as in the fields of semiconductor chips and systems, electronics for life sciences, body area networks, energy, photovoltaics, sustainable wireless communication, image sensors and vision systems, and flexible electronics and displays, imec has collaborated with universities, research institutes and top companies, creating solutions and developing emerging technology for a sustainable environment.
In the domain of semiconductor technologies, imec has enabled notable advancements: being at the forefront in advancing immersion lithography, EUV, double patterning, imec has driven lithography as a key solution to overcome the challenges in scaling down features in silicon chips. In 2013, imec and ASML, broadened their partnership with the launch of a Patterning Center. When complete, this will offer the global semiconductor ecosystem the most advanced patterning knowledge for sub-10nm technologies, crucial to addressing future scaling and infrastructure challenges.
Launched in 2003, imec’s research platform addressed the needs of the semiconductor value chain during the crucial transition from 200mm to 300mm silicon wafers as a manufacturing standard. The platform allows companies to collaborate on advanced process module and device research, targeting technology generations two to three nodes ahead of state-of-the-art IC production. Today, this initiative has evolved to a global collaboration platform with global industry leaders such as Intel, Samsung, TSMC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Micron, SK Hynix, Toshiba, SanDisk, Panasonic, Sony, Qualcomm, Altera, Fujitsu, nVidia, Xilinx, and others, driving semiconductor industry innovations.
Imec’s innovation in nanoelectronics has been a driver for developments in many other domains including healthcare, energy, photovoltaics, communications, and mobility, where imec has applied its semiconductor technology expertise.
This year, the research centre has announced plans with AlixPartners to co-develop a cost modeling solution to assess the cost of advanced semiconductor technology options. The work is aimed at assisting the semiconductor industry in improving the
operational intelligence around costs of future technology nodes.
The modeling will assess the cost of various patterning options for N10/N7 nodes, advanced packaging solutions and 3D NAND memory – all topics with big impacts on the price-tag of future consumer electronics.
Imec and AlixPartners will be comparing the ‘should-be’ cost of lithography-patterning from a system perspective and will assist in providing this information to industry suppliers and materials providers to better provision the development of extreme ultraviolet (EUV)
lithography and/or 193inm multi-patterning lithography solutions. This model, designed to address advanced patterning costs, will also be crucial for fabless semiconductor companies (those that outsource their manufacturing) that are defining product strategy in close collaboration with foundries.
Economics today are challenging Moore's law as the costs associated with node progression have been rising significantly. Below the 28nm node, the semiconductor industry is struggling to maintain its historical 30-percent cost savings per logic gate node over node. At the same time, consumer markets today are demanding cheaper smartphones and other devices, including for the Internet of Things.
As part of this joint effort, imec and AlixPartners will also work with interested parties who have new ideas on how to reduce semiconductor design, development and manufacturing costs, thereby assisting with the building of corresponding cost models via imec’s existing Industrial Affiliation Program (IIAP).
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