IMEC, one of Europe's largest independent micro- and nanoelectronics research centers, today announced that five of the world's leading semiconductor manufacturers – Infineon, Intel, Philips, Samsung Electronics and STMicroelectronics -- have boosted their collaboration with IMEC by joining IMEC's sub-45nm research platform. These core partnerships are a major step in the implementation of IMEC's 300mm center of excellence.
The ability to develop sub-45nm process technologies that stay abreast of the semiconductor technology roadmap requires massive increases in research and resources at a huge cost. To offset this burden, IMEC has created a centralized research platform in close collaboration with IC manufacturers and equipment manufacturers. This research platform allows companies to collaborate during the research phase of a project and reduce individual risk and costs, while deriving results more quickly by working together in a state-of-the-art facility.
IMEC's collaborative research program targets technology generations two to three nodes ahead of state-of-the-art IC production. The activities are organized as a coherent cluster of programs enabling very advanced research at reduced cost. Based on its long-standing track record and expertise, IMEC's central focus in these programs is on advanced process module and device research, with several programs being devoted to the exploration of new materials. Programs include:
- Advanced lithography.
- Cleaning and contamination control.
- Substrate modules: implementation of high-mobility layers and advanced source/drain engineering solutions.
- Gate stack: high-k dielectrics and metal gates.
- Alternative CMOS devices (e.g. SOI and multi-gate FETs).
- Germanium-based CMOS devices.
- Advanced interconnect solutions: ultra-low-k materials and wafer-level packaging on Cu damascene.
In line with industry's transition, the tool set for the execution of these programs will gradually transition from 200mm to 300mm wafers in IMEC's new research facility, which will be ready for equipment installation in Spring 2004. Partnerships with several leading equipment manufacturers have been concluded by the signing of LOIs to deliver the latest process tools. The strategic alliance with ASML will enable IMEC to build the 300mm research platform around the world's most advanced lithography clusters.
By joining as core partners, Infineon, Intel, Philips, Samsung Electronics and STMicroelectronics have committed themselves to active participation in IMEC's sub-45nm silicon research programs for the forthcoming years. Core partner benefits include increased involvement in the steering and execution of the research programs, a favorable intellectual property ruling and an early insight to breakthrough research results. Having access to all the programs allows partners to get a full picture of research for sub-45nm technologies and to gain fundamental understanding in each area.
Other semiconductor companies such as Texas Instruments also strongly support IMEC's core CMOS program today by participating already in a large number of programs.
"We are very pleased that these leading semiconductor manufacturers with excellent in-house R&D expertise have become core partners within our sub-45nm silicon research platform," stated Professor Gilbert Declerck, president and CEO of IMEC. "Their action clearly demonstrates the need for joint research ventures to tackle the challenges of developing nano-scaled technologies. By bringing together the world's best research experts in a state-of-the-art facility, companies will be able to keep pace with the semiconductor roadmap. These agreements are proof of our ability to bring together the leading semiconductor manufacturers, material and equipment suppliers. We are confident that more key players will join us and further extend our programs with worldwide competencies. The core partnerships announced today will result in a broad range of R&D at IMEC. Together with IMEC's interdisciplinary research, this partnership will form the foundation for broadening the focus and the activities at the 300mm silicon research platform from nano-scaled technologies to a combination of heterogeneous technologies."
"We are working with IMEC already for several years in a variety of projects and are highly appreciating the professionalism and the technical competences of the IMEC team. We now look forward to a successful extension of this cooperation into the new sub-45nm/300mm program which is including many of the top players of the semiconductor industry;" said Franz Neppl, Senior Vice President Corporate Logic / Development Infineon Technologies AG.
Dr. Paolo Gargini, Director of Technology Strategy, Intel Fellow said: "We believe that IMEC is indeed one of the world's Centers of Excellence in its field. Intel has been an active participant in IMEC programs for many years and has benefited as a result. We believe that the new 300mm clean room, hosting programs aimed at features of 45nm and below, will further enhance the value of the contributions from IMEC. We now feel confident that we will get maximum value by becoming a Core Partner together with some of the leading IC companies in the world. We are looking forward to closely working with the leading equipment and material supplier companies from around the world in conjunction with the highly qualified technical staff of IMEC."
"The agreement represents an important step in keeping Philips at the forefront of the semiconductor industry. It will bring together some of the world's best research minds and resources, not only in basic semiconductor materials and device physics, but also in tool assessment such as advanced lithography. This ensures the fastest possible route from process and device research to production capability;" said Dr. Theo Claasen, Executive Vice President Technology and Strategy of Philips Semiconductors.
"IMEC's distinguished research program brings together the expertise of industry leaders," said Dr. Byung-Il Ryu, Executive Vice President of Samsung Electronics' Semiconductor R&D Center. "Together with core partners and IMEC's research team, Samsung anticipates the development of next-generation technologies to contribute to the better development of the semiconductor industry."
"Our decision to become a core partner in IMEC's research platform, is based on IMEC's ability to deliver the process steps we need to fulfill customer requirements for highly advanced SoC solutions," said Joel Monnier, Corporate Vice President and Director of Central R&D at STMicroelectronics. " In conjunction with ST's well- established and long-term co-operation with its strategic research partner LETI, the Crolles2 Alliance partners will now have access to the most efficient advanced R&D in Europe and the US."