Pain brings gain at Semicon West

SAN JOSE, CA--Exhibiting at a one-week trade show that was split between two exhibit halls more than 40 miles apart was a logistical "pain in the rear end," according to at least one of the exhibitors at the 1997 Semicon West exposition that began in San Franciso on July 14 and ended in San Jose on July 19. Previously held entirely in San Francisco`s Moscone Center, this year`s exposition was divided between the Moscone and San Jose`s McEnery Convention Center to meet an increasing demand for ex

Pain brings gain at Semicon West

Hassaun Jones-Bey

SAN JOSE, CA--Exhibiting at a one-week trade show that was split between two exhibit halls more than 40 miles apart was a logistical "pain in the rear end," according to at least one of the exhibitors at the 1997 Semicon West exposition that began in San Franciso on July 14 and ended in San Jose on July 19. Previously held entirely in San Francisco`s Moscone Center, this year`s exposition was divided between the Moscone and San Jose`s McEnery Convention Center to meet an increasing demand for exhibit space. It also focused, at the San Jose site, on the test, assembly, and packaging portion of the chipmaking process.

About 10% of the exhibitors exhibited in both halls, and their pain was particularly intense on Wednesday when both locations were open, said Scott White, North American manager for semiconductor devices and medical electronics at Lumonics (Oxnard, CA). But the pain was worth it. Two of three new products introduced by Lumonics at Semicon were aimed at the "back end" or packaging portion of the show, and Lumonics garnered about twice as many leads this year as it did before. "The majority of leads definitely came from the packaging side," White said.

Registration for this year`s Semicon was u¥about 11% over last year to more than 76,000 people, according to the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; Mountain View, CA) spokesperson, Jonathan Davis. "We are pleased that for the first year of a segmented show we had the traffic, attendance, and general satisfaction of exhibitors that we did," Davis said.

The registration figure included on-site as well as advanced registration for exhibitors, attendees, and visitors, he said. Verified nonexhibitor attendance was just over 27,000, with a total of 1434 exhibitors at both sites.

Savina Angel, trade show manager for the Coherent Laser Grou¥(Santa Clara, CA) agreed that the 1997 Semicon exposition was highly successful overall, and particularly "in terms of meeting processing and packaging people in San Jose." Coherent was one of the first laser companies to exhibit at Semicon, Angel said. More have entered each year, and the new focus on packaging in San Jose will bring in even more, she said.

"Aside from CLEO, this is one of the most successful shows for us," she noted, adding that laser-industry organizations, such as SPIE (Bellingham, WA) and the OSA (Washington, DC) should get more involved in shows like Semicon to educate the market about lasers. "Laser companies can`t give seminars," she said. "It wouldn`t be appropriate. But associations could."

Standards coming for 300-mm chips

In addition to the separate San Jose venue for packaging, another major focus for Semicon 1997 was the transition to 300-mm-diameter wafers. On Wednesday in San Francisco, the I300I 13-member consortium of device makers from the USA, Europe, and Asia, and the J300 10-member consortium of device makers from Japan, announced agreement on joint guidelines for creating standards for 300-mm chi¥production.

Semicon organizer, SEMI, estimates that the transition to 300-mm wafers will cost $14 billion initially, but could eventually cut semiconductor manufacturing costs by as much as 30%, while increasing chi¥production quantities by a factor of 2.5 over the current 200-mm wafer. According to a SEMI statement, at least nine pilot production lines with 500 to 1000 wafer starts per month are projected to be in operation between the second half of 1998 and the first half of 1999.

Several product introductions by laser companies were targeted specifically at new 300-mm wafers. For instance, Lumonic`s XC (for extra clean) wafer marking system was introduced in the beginning of the week in the fabrication portion of the meeting held in San Francisco.

To hel¥semiconductor manufacturers meet the more-demanding clean-room environment that the larger, more tightly packed 300-mm wafers will require, the XC system provides its own mini-clean-room environment. The wafers are sealed in portable pods that are not opened until they are within the clean environment of the marking tool. Once the wafers are marked, they are returned to the pod before being removed from the tool, White said.

Therma-Wave (Fremont, CA) introduced 300-mm versions of all of its products, including new tools for metal film metrology and film thickness measuring, said product manager Li Zhou.

WYKO (Tucson, AZ) announced a dual-wavelength ultraviolet interferometric inspection system to support the emerging 0.25-µm semiconductor applications that 300-mm wafers will require, along with an automated surface-metrology system for 0.1-nm surface height measurements. "In general there appears to be an awareness of interferometry in this market and they`re learning that it works for them," said WYKO marketing communications manager Sharon Lippold.

Rudolph Technologies (Flanders, NJ) exhibited a combination of recently introduced metrology systems to work with both 200-mm and 300-mm wafer systems.

Ironically, there may be no clearer demonstration of the success of Semicon than the fact that even though it is has been split into two venues there is still a shortage of space.

As Leslie Cole, corporate communications manager for Cymer (San Diego, CA) put it, "I understand that even with the Moscone additions, next year SEMI will still not be able to put both ends of the semiconductor process together for a single show and the wait lists will continue. But Cymer will be there."

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