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Brazil gets in the game

An ambitious plan financed by development banks, government monies, and private investors hopes to put Brazil on the chipmaking map. The Minas Gerais Technological Park, a 990-acre site located in the Minas Gerais state capital of Belo Horizonte, will be focused on semiconductor and semiconductor-related manufacturing and design. The tech park will be anchored by Companhia Brasileira de Semiconductores (CBS), which will have a mixed-signal chipmaking facility completed by 2007. The Brazilian government is also backing the creation of a cluster of design houses as part of its Eldorado project to lure foreign chip-design companies to the country, as well as foster the establishment of homegrown designers.

Bill Boldt, U.S. representative for CBS, told MICRO that the fab will run 200-mm wafers, employing CMOS, biCMOS, BCD-MOS, and SiGe processes developed at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, with which CBS has a “close relationship.” He said the company’s technology roadmap calls for an initial ramp of a 0.35-µm process, with “aggressive” migration to 0.25- and 0.18-µm technologies. M+W Zander will be the contractor for the fab construction.

Boldt (who has worked for TDK Semiconductor, Silicon Systems, and Rockwell) also provided more details on the Brazilian government’s efforts to kick-start a domestic design industry. He explained that 80% of designer salaries will be subsidized for the first two years, with 60% subsidized for the third year, and that design tool purchases will also be underwritten. In addition to building a domestic chip-design and manufacturing workforce, Boldt said efforts will be made to entice expatriate engineering talent as well.

Minas Gerais is one of the most industrialized and prosperous areas of Brazil. A new international airport in Belo Horizonte adds to an already well-developed basic infrastructure in the region. Boldt said both the state and federal governments have a strong commitment to building a chipmaking industry, citing the key role played by the state governor, Aécio Neves da Cunha, as well as a recent conversation he had with Roberto Abdenur, Brazil’s ambassador to the United States, who knew about the project in detail.

Boldt offered an analogy with two areas of cultural expertise often associated with the people of Brazil. “One of the jokes around the [project] team is, if the Brazilians are half as good at semiconductors as they are at music and soccer, they’ll be the next Intel.” —TC

Sematech adds IML tool

An interference immersion exposure system has been delivered to Sematech for work on extending wet lithography to the 45-nm node and beyond. The tool is installed at the Immersion Technology Center in Austin, which is part of the Advanced Materials Research Center, jointly run by the industry consortium and several Texas universities. Amphibian Systems (Rochester, NY) supplied the platform, which is designed to study immersion litho with novel fluids and resists, up to a numerical aperture of 1.5. Enclosed in an ultraclean minienvironment, the tool features a 2-mm exposure-field size, a suite of polarization controls, and the ability to image line patterns and contact features. Its fluid-delivery system can distribute water or alternative fluids with high refractive indices, and can change fluids quickly between wafers. The system is available for use by researchers from Sematech, its member companies and suppliers, and academics around the state.

Strained-Si market booms

A new report predicts the global market for strained silicon will grow at an average annual growth rate of 48.9% over the next five years. RGB-330 Strained Silicon: Technologies, Opportunities, published by Business Communications, shows total strained-substrate revenues increasing from a current level of nearly $340 million to almost $2.5 billion in 2010. Strained silicon on insulator (sSOI) and silicon germanium (sSiGe) are the two major segments, with the sSOI sector expanding at a slightly faster clip than sSiGe. Thin-film strained products are expected to rise 56% over the five-year span, eclipsing the relatively healthy average annual growth rate of 38% predicted for thick-film applications. For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, contact

Wang joins Hua Huang

Long-time Applied Materials executive David Wang has left the semiconductor equipment manufacturer to head Shanghai Hua Huang Group. He will become the Chinese semiconductor conglomerate’s CEO, as well as assuming the roles of vice chairman, CEO, and president of Shanghai Hua Hong International and chairman of Hua Hong Semiconductor. Wang, who holds more than 100 patents, worked for Applied for 25 years and had been executive vice president of the process tool supplier since 2000.

“My objective is to grow [the company] into a global competitive, international company with Western-style financial transparency and IP [intellectual property] protection,” Wang told Reuters news agency. “It is time China needs a company like that.” Hua Hong, which includes the Shanghai Hua Hong NEC and Shanghai Belling chipmaking concerns, reported revenues of more than $500 million last year.

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© 2007 Tom Cheyney
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