There’s nothing quite as exciting as watching a major sporting event when rival teams meet head-to-head. Even if you don’t have a vested interest in either team, you still get caught up in the excitement of the game itself. That’s sort of how I feel when I get back-to-back press releases announcing wins for rival 3D equipment manufacturers. Such was the occasion at SEMICON West, when EV Group announced an order for their 300mm bonding system from SEMATECH, followed by SUSS’s announcement of a similar win at IMEC.
Permanent bonding, and temporary bonding and debonding processes have been identified as challenges still to be addressed for successful 3D IC integration using TSV interconnects. One of the reasons for this, I’m told, is because although there are multiple equipment manufacturers working to develop processes for TSV formation, SUSS MicroTec and EV Group are the only two wafer bonding tool companies offering 300 mm bonding tools for both permanent and temporary bonding and debonding applications.
While both companies also manufacture tools for other areas of the market, (lithography, mask aligners, test, etc) it is in the bonding technology market that they are head-to-head rivals, without any other competition to speak of.
So when both companies make strides forward, it’s like being at the big game. The action is exciting to follow, as each company strives to develop and introduce better technologies than the other, achieve higher accuracies, and higher yielding processes, and win more installs.
In my opinion, progress of 3D integration would suffer if either company didn’t play. Where’s the incentive to develop new, better technologies if you’re the only game in town? Lack of competition inspires complacency rather than innovation. As much as both teams delight in the other’s challenges, I suspect that each has to grudgingly appreciate the other’s existence. After all, there’s nothing like a healthy rivalry to bring out the best in a team. I plan on getting season tickets.