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Fabless revenues grow

Company revenues in the fabless sector grew substantially in 2004, according to two recent reports. Issued by the Fabless Semiconductor Association (FSA), the "Q4 Global Fabless Fundings & Financials Report" shows total revenues in 2004 at $33 billion, a year-to-year increase of 27% over 2003. Nine of the top-10 fabless companies are U.S.-based, led by Qualcomm, Broadcom, and ATI Technologies, with seventh-ranked MediaTek of Taiwan the only non-American firm among the leaders.

Although Dataquest does not classify certain FSA companies as fabless or factor in the nonsemiconductor revenues of other vendors (FSA reports total company revenues), the market research group reported a year-to-year revenue increase of 27.7%, rising to $28.96 billion. The increase in the fabless sector slightly exceeded the overall semiconductor market's 2004 growth rate of 23.4%. Dataquest's data also show that fabless chipmakers earned 13.2% of all semiconductor revenues in 2004, up from 12.7% in 2003.

Aixtron enters R&D alliance

An unnamed major IC manufacturer and compound epitaxy equipment supplier Aixtron have joined forces in an R&D alliance to qualify novel metals for the production of sub-45-nm logic devices.  The joint program will concentrate on metal gate electrode development, with initial work focusing on evaluation of various metal gate materials for large-scale production purposes, integration of those materials into high-k gate stacks, and optimization of PMOS and NMOS device structures. The process and material development work will be done on an Aixtron Tricent atomic vapor deposition 200-/300-mm bridge tool. "This program represents an important complementary effort to Aixtron's ongoing high-k development activities with the MEDEA T207 program at STMicroelectronics in Crolles, France, as well as the company's JDP program in partnership with IMEC," notes Tim McEntee, Aixtron's executive vp and COO.

South Dakota school offers FA

A cooperative agreement between the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) and molecular nanotechnology company Zyvex will create a new IC failure-analysis provider. Zyvex will outsource testing services to the Center for Accelerated Applications at the Nanoscale, located on the school's campus in Rapid City. A grant of $250,000 from the state will be provided to the school and center to acquire nanoprobing equipment from Zyvex, in addition to funds offered through a loan from a Rapid City economic development fund. SDSMT will be the first university to have such a fully integrated system installed and operational.

ReVera scores funds

Series B funds totaling $11.2 million have been secured by ReVera. The Sunnyvale, CA–based compositional metrology equipment company (established in 2004 after spinning out of High Voltage Engineering and Physical Electronics) received the investment monies from ATA Ventures and original investor Crosslink Capital, with members of ReVera's senior management team also contributing. As part of the deal, Pete Thomas, ATA's managing director, joins the company's board. "This round of funding will allow us to accelerate new product development and our global fan-out to additional customers and applications," says Dave Ring, ReVera's president and CEO.

New standards issued

SEMI has published 19 new technical standards for the FPD and semiconductor manufacturing communities. The new guidelines and specifications are part of the March 2005 standards publication cycle, one of three annual cycles carried out by the trade association. Among the new standards are several related to tool and fab automation, software, networking, and data collection, as well as four that address specs and guidelines for specific process gases such as argon and hydrogen. Others include terminology for silicon technology; a test method for time-dependent dielectric breakdown characteristics of silicon dioxide films; and a guide for conservation of energy, utilities, and materials used by chipmaking equipment. The standards can be downloaded from www.semi. org or purchased in CD-ROM format.

Litho intro published

SPIE Press has published the second edition of Principles of Lithography. Author Harry J. Levinson, an AMD and SPIE fellow and manager of the chipmaker's strategic lithography technology department, says in the preface to the new edition that the "first and foremost" objective of the book is "to serve as an introduction to the science of microlithography for people who are unfamiliar with the subject." Hundreds of references to the lithographic literature accompany the 12 chapters and appendix, allowing the reader to investigate specific areas in more depth. Chapters cover such topics as optical pattern formation, photoresists, modeling, steppers, overlay, masks and reticles, metrology, litho, and alternative litho techniques. Problem sets also follow each chapter.

Although its primary audience is those new to the discipline, Levinson notes that "experienced lithographers" can use the book to "gain a better understanding of topics that are not in their own areas of expertise." He also covers a few select subjects in depth, including such manufacturing equipment–related areas as overlay, light sources, and exposure tool stages. The book costs $71 for SPIE members, $84 for nonmembers. For ordering information, go to

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