Smart technologies have gripped the world’s imagination with their promise to revolutionize the way we live and work. With the semiconductor supply chain central to these advances, SEMI Japan in October hosted 200 members for SEMI Japan Members Day as speakers from three of the world’s top device manufacturers – Denso, Sony and Kioxia – offered their perspectives on the strides the semiconductor industry needs to make in three key areas: automotive, smart manufacturing and 3D flash memory manufacturing technology.
Automotive Evolution and Electronics – Denso
The automotive industry is re-inventing itself to innovate across connectivity, autonomy, sharing and electric (CASE) and ensure safe, comfortable and environmentally friendly autonomous driving, said Nobuaki Kawahara, executive fellow and director of the Advanced Research and Innovation Center at Denso. Key focus areas of Denso in CASE innovation are Extraordinary Safety and Everyday Confidence. The company’s goal is to minimize damage to vehicles involved in collisions or one-car accidents by making it easier for drivers to detect and steer clear of objects in their path.
To improve automobile safety and security, the company is developing advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving technologies as it promotes the confluence of four areas of technology – HMI (Human Machine Interface), environmental recognition, vehicle control assistance, and information and communications. One use case Denso sees as a significant opportunity is deploying sensors such as millimeter-wave radar, cameras and LiDAR to monitor a vehicle’s surroundings, using GPS and precision mapping to pinpoint its location and determine the best route for safety and distance, and then transmitting that information to a motion-control system.
Denso is also out to solve the hard challenges associated with autonomous driving in dynamic road conditions. Kawahara pointed out that road conditions vary and that rules for "driving at certain intervals in a certain lane" vary depending on the time of day. Also, on public roads in Abashiri, Hokkaido, where the company is currently conducting field tests, snowfall makes it difficult to recognize road images and gather sensor information. In Asia, it is also common for motorcycles and automobiles to speed along with very little space between them.
Image Sensors to Accelerate Development of Smart Manufacturing – Sony
To fulfill the promise of smart manufacturing, the semiconductor supply chain must continue to invest in sensor and imaging technology innovation, said Shigeo Ohba, deputy senior general manager of the Imaging System Business Division at Sony Semiconductor Solutions. For its part, Sony is developing imaging sensors that help network and automate factories to achieve new production and cost efficiencies. For example, the company plans to design devices to increase equipment uptime through predictive maintenance, reduce defect rates and drive other manufacturing efficiencies.
The challenge with today’s factory lines that produce a number of different devices is that they are highly complex to manage and therefore prone to human error, undercutting manufacturing efficiency. In the future, AI-powered machines will leverage data analysis to help streamline operations. Adapting an image sensor with AI to machine vision applications can simplify key processes such as measurement and inspection processes while reducing safety and security costs.
Of the vast amount of information on all machines connected to the cloud, only essential details will be processed at the edge since edge data processing offers stronger security and reduces data transfer time. Ohba said image sensors will evolve based on edge AI, adding that "AI will be a paradigm shift for image sensors if it’s economically feasible."
3D Flash Memory Manufacturing Technology Challenges – Kioxia
Increasing connectivity in factories for smarter, more efficient operations places huge demands on memory since networked devices typically store duplicate data, said Hideshi Miyajima, head of the Advanced Memory Development Center (AMDC) at Kioxia. To meet demand for higher networking speed and capacity, 2d NAND flash memory is moving to 3D and, in particular, three 3D techniques: multivalued memory, cell partitioning and layer stacking.
To increase storage capacity, the third-generation 64-layer BiCS FLASH™ stacks layers to form nearly two trillion holes with a diameter of 100nm and a depth of 5μm on a wafer and places a uniform 2-3nm thin film on the inner wall of each 5-μm hole. For its BiCS FLASH™, Kioxia uses a dry etching technique that forms a straight, elongated through-hole and atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology, which creates a uniform laminate atomic layer on the wafer surface to grow materials uniformly and with high precision on large, complex substrates.
In order to meet the cost expectations of high-volume 3D flash memory manufacturers, outlays across fabs must be reduced by better monitoring plasma control, enhancing yield through particle control, speeding film formation, and reducing gas, power and water usage, Miyajima said.
SMART Transportation and SMART Manufacturing in the Spotlight at SEMICON Japan
Please join us at SEMICON Japan 2019, December 11-13 at Tokyo Big Sight, for the latest developments and trends in SMART Transportation and Smart Manufacturing. There are also a few other great reasons to attend. We look forward to seeing you in Tokyo!
Jim Hamajima is president of SEMI Japan.