SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium 2018 – day 0

Sunday is, for most attendees of the Advanced Lithography Symposium, a travel day to get to San Jose, or just a normal Sunday for those who are local.  But it is technically the Symposium’s first day.  For me it was a 14 hour day, beginning with teaching an all-day short course (with John Petersen), giving two talks at different company-sponsored workshops, and ending with a planning dinner for next year’s conference.  Let’s just say I’m all warmed up and ready for the papers to begin!

2018 will be a very important year in the development of EUV lithography towards high-volume manufacturing (HVM).  (I’m pretty sure I say this every year.)  ASML now says that it’s NXE:3400 will be the tool that is capable of HVM, and the first 3400 was shipped and installed at Samsung the end of last year.  Will we see some early results from this tool?  I’m not holding my breath.

Attendance this year will be similar to that of the last 10 years, in the 2000-2200 range.  But abstract submittals were down 11% from last year.  That disconnect (still strong attendance but reduced author participation) is probably a result of the continuing industry consolidation.  In particular, the semiconductor makers are shrinking to a “big three” plus a few others.  But the real problem is that the big three are not pulling their weight as authors.  Intel is giving exactly zero papers at the symposium this year.  Zero. TSMC is the primary author on three papers.  Samsung is primary author on 10 papers (getting more respectable).  Filling the void left by the big three are GlobalFoundries (with nearly 40 papers) and imec (I didn’t even try to count).  It’s time for Intel and TSMC to step up and become more enlightened: contributing to the advancement of the lithography community as a whole is good for the whole industry, including them.

OK, I’ve had my first rant.  I guess that means the conference has officially begun.

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