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Japanese target advanced chip-making

A confederation of ten Japanese chipmakers begins research on advanced chip production technology.

Semiconductor Leading Edge Technologies, a confederation of ten Japanese chipmakers, has started researching advanced chip production technology, according to a report in Nikkei Microdevices

The confederation, referred to as Selete, was established in 1996 and originally focused on examining the technologies necessary to employ so-called 0.25-micron designs in semiconductor manufacturing. Now, however, they are focusing on more advanced 0.13- to 0.1-micron production technology, said the report.

The most precise production technologies currently used are 0.28- to 0.25-micron processes, which are employed in the production of microprocessors such as Intel's Pentium for notebook PCs. Increasing the resolution, or preciseness, of semiconductor processes allows the construction of faster chips that use less energy and produce less heat. This is critical both for high-end chips and processors used in portable computers.

The group's research will focus on two areas: ArF excimer laser stepper and mask technology, and electron-beam direct write-lithography. The two technologies are used to shape and modify silicon wafers into processors.

Selete intends to create a prototype 0.1- to 0.13-micron chip by 2000, investing $69.6 million on the research by that time.

During the project, Selete will evaluate manufacturing, inspection, and repair equipment as well as basic materials for use in an integrated manufacturing system.

Selete is also investing $8.7 million on research into the computer-aided design of semiconductors by 2000. Research in this area will include 3-D process simulation and 3-D device simulators.