With the two new systems, Applied, based in Santa Clara, California, will now offer a complete process for semiconductor makers that want to employ the much-vaunted copper interconnect technology for making faster computer chips.
Currently, chip companies rely on aluminum as an electrical conductor, but as chips are developed with finer linewidths and more transistors, aluminum slows down and cannot conduct electricity to make the circuits move fast enough. Applications such as advanced data communications, computing, telecommunications, graphics design, and a range of consumer electronics are all expected to benefit from the copper technology.
Applied's launch of the copper-making systems comes almost a year after Novellus Systems became the first chip-equipment maker to launch a copper chipmaking system in a partnership with Lam Research and others last June.
Analysts said Applied's new products fill out a total product family, including a barrier system it launched in December 1997, as the company makes an aggressive bid for leadership in the burgeoning copper field. Applied dominates most sectors of the chip equipment business in which it participates.