For many technologies, standards unshackle them from patents and enable their mass production – an idea close to the heart of Wendy Chen, associate vice president of the R&D Center at King Yuan Electronics Corp. and vice chair of the SEMI Taiwan Test Committee. More importantly, standards are crucial to a product’s commercial success: Producing it in high volume reduces its price and helps drive widespread adoption.
With standards part and parcel to the economies of manufacturing , SEMI has sought consensus over the years among key players in materials, equipment, and other manufacturing segments on the importance of standardization in a push to cut costs.
Chen first set herself to work on SEMI standards development in 2010, when 74 percent of 3D IC patents were owned by IBM. At the time, SEMI saw the huge potential in 3D IC and believed the lack of technology standards might hamper the future of the semiconductor industry.
Motivated by that conviction, SEMI established the 3DS-IC Standard Committee in the U.S. in July 2010 and the SEMI Taiwan 3DS-IC Standard Committee the following year, and before long the committees were working together to form standards targeting mass production at low cost. The Taiwan committee was co-chaired by Wendy Chen, Dr. Yi-shao Lai (Advanced Semiconductor Engineering), and Dr. Zhi-kun Gu (Industrial Technology Research Institute). The trio spearheaded 3DS-IC standard development efforts in Taiwan.
In setting the 3DS-IC standards, SEMI put the needs of the manufacturing sector first, Chen says, to ensure their implementation throughout the supply chain. SEMI saw Taiwan’s development of 3D IC standards, coupled with its manufacturing prowess, as key to securing the region’s place in the global 3D IC market.
Wide Range of Industries Prosper With SEMI Standards
Of course the influence of SEMI Standards extends well beyond 3D IC to include protocols for hardware and software communication, traceability, compound semiconductors, facilities, MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems), metrics, silicon wafers, carriers and automation systems. The standards are used in a broad range of manufacturing segments including panel display, photovoltaic, PCB and high brightness LED.
As recently as last February, SEMI Taiwan formed a PCBECI (PCB equipment communication interface) equipment networking pilot team to build a solid foundation for smart PCB manufacturing in the region. The team combined the SECS (SEMI equipment communication standard) and GEM (generic equipment model) interfaces to create the PCBECI protocol.
Security Standards Vital in Smart Manufacturing
With smart manufacturing’s aim to drive new efficiencies comes growing security concerns in the global microelectronics industry. Improving communication within a manufacturing facility, and between that facility and trusted suppliers or partners, is central to the success of smart manufacturing. To improve communications, the conduits for the flow of information must first be secure. SEMI Taiwan is answering this critical need by creating a task force to promote information security standards – an effort that will give Taiwan a powerful voice in the development of global standards.
For Taiwan, SEMI Standards is the backbone of a thriving semiconductor manufacturing industry. As many as 25 SEMI Standards are cited in a purchase order for a piece of semiconductor processing equipment, and standards helped propel Taiwan’s rise as global semiconductor manufacturing power. The region has produced a staggering 2.2 billion wafers and 1.8 trillion IC devices.
Taiwan on Track to Become World’s Largest Equipment Market
Taiwan’s semiconductor industry continues to gather strength. According to the SEMI 2019 Mid-Year Total Equipment Forecast, Taiwan will dethrone Korea as the largest equipment market and lead the world with 21.1 percent growth this year.
Since Wendy Chen started her work on standards in 2010, SEMI has published about 200 protocols. As part of the SEMI Taiwan Test Committee, she joined the celebration for another milestone – the publication of the 1,000th SEMI International Standard in July. The corks of the champagne bottles popped nearly a half century after SEMI began developing standards to accelerate innovation and help power what today is the $2 trillion global electronics industry.
And with Taiwan’s rise to the top of equipment market, it has good reason to cheer too.
Emmy Yi is a marketing specialist at SEMI Taiwan.