My Sojourn to SEMATECH

I’m a big believer in building relationships. One of my goals with 3D InCites is to make the rounds of all the research organizations with 3D IC programs, not only to ogle all the cool tools and compare 300mm clean rooms, but to get a real feel for how each organization operates, how they are similar and different from each other, and most importantly, to get to know the people who work there on a more personal level.   In addition to meetings, interviews, PowerPoint presentations, and facility tours; eating, drinking, and casual conversation is all an important part of the experience.  So far I’ve visited imec and Leti; and this week SEMATECH was my host for an action-packed and fun filled visit to their headquarters in Albany, New York.

DSC05073I flew through the seasons on the flight out, leaving summer behind in Arizona, getting a glimpse of autumn in Baltimore, and landing in a winter snow storm in Albany.  Erica McGill, SEMATECH’s marketing and communications director, met me at the airport and whisked me off to dinner where we met Andy Rudack, who heads up the 3D metrology program, and Larry Smith, who has just handed off 3D integration responsibilities to Klaus Hummler, Ph.D. so that he can focus on 3D reliability issues, stress management, and other areas of the 3D ecosystem yet to be explored by SEMATECH.  Hummler joined SEMATECH 3 months ago after working for start-up SiXus.

Over exquisite Italian cuisine (a new place called Grappa – if you’re in Albany, you have to try it. Erica knows how to get there) we chatted about movies, books, travel, food , children, grandchildren, and even got down to some actual industry discussion.  Larry and Andy said they definitely feeling momentum build around 3D IC volume production, which is one of many reasons why Andy believes 3D belongs at SPIE.  He was pleased to announce that SEMATECH once again will have a podium presentation on 3D at this year’s event.  When he worked in the litho world, he had lots of poster presentations, but it wasn’t until he was working in 3D that he landed the prime podium spot.

Larry had just returned from the 3D Test Workshop in Austin, (which 3D InCites helped promote) although I was unable to attend myself, so I was eager to hear his perspective. He attended on a scouting mission (test is one of the 3D areas SEMATECH has yet to explore) and said it was well attended and very informative. He mentioned a fine-pitch probe technology that had been introduced.  (Look for more details on that event coming soon.)

The next morning, I received a warm welcome from Sitaram Arkalgud, director of the 3D integration program.  Sitaram has been a member of the 3D InCites advisory board since we created it, and also participated the Brightspots 3D IC panel discussion and webcast that I moderated at SEMICON West 2009, so we pretty much go way back.  He shares my enthusiasm for the future of 3D integration, so it’s always great to see him.  Klaus Hummler joined us as well, recently back from IMAPS International, which he reported was very well attended, especially the 3D track.  He said that the 3D panel discussion was particularly interesting, because of the ”unusual degree of concensus”  on how 3D will be implemented in high volume manufacturing,, although there are still arguments about the timelines, some people say 2013 will be the big year . Nokia’s recent news about moving forward with wide I/O DRAM using TSV interconnects was one of the reasons for such enthusiasm at IMAPS.

The next day was spent learning more about the SEMATECH’s 3D program, the partnership with College of Nanoscience and Engineering, and touring the new 300mm 3D line. As per usual, that full coverage is forthcoming so stay tuned. I’m also happy to announce that SEMATECH is now a contributing partner of 3D InCites, so you can look forward to more direct information about their workshops, partnerships, progress and much more.

DSC05098The visit wrapped up with another culinary adventure. Andy and Sitaram wanted to try a new place that was called Café 24 or something like that, and they thought they knew where it was. (It was actually Garden Bistro 2, and turned out to be exactly where they thought it was).  The pumpkin soup was nothing short of amazing, and the ham and Swiss crepe was good too.  Andy was two for two in restaurant suggestions. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting culinary excellence in Albany, but I have to say, the dining alone was worth the trip.